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THE WILMER COLLECTION 

OF CIVIL WAR NOVELS 

PRESENTED BY 

RICHARD H. WILMER, JR. 








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Digitized by tine Internet Arciiive 

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University of Nortii Carolina at Chapel Hill 



http://www.archive.org/details/captainofcompanyOOkirk 



"Detroit Free-Press" Competition, First-Prize Story. 



THE 

Captain of 

Company K 



BY 



JOSEPH KIRKLAND, 

Late Major and A.-D.-C, U.-S. Volunteers. 



PROFUSELY ILLUSTRATED FROM DRAWINGS BY HUGH CAPPER. 



CHICAGO: 

DIBBLE PUBLISHING COMPANY, 

260 Clark Street. 

1891. 



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 189T, by 

Joseph Kirkland, 
In the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington. 



To THE 

SURVIVING MEN OF THE FIRING LINE, 

THE Men who could See the Enemy in Front of Them 

WITH THE Naked Eye while they would have needed 

A Field-Glass to see the History- Makers 

Behind Them, this Story is Humbly 

AND Affectionately Dedicated. 



603000 



FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS. 



"Is THIS Really your Tent?" 39 

" Tear— Cartridge ! " 73 

Mark Leaned Foravard, 87 

The Great Doors were Wide Open, . - - 131 

"AuLD Colin 'll see ye Through," ... - 165 

"My Remarks are not Drifting, Colonel," - 207 

"My! Aint She Peaches?" 253 

"For God's Sweet Sake, Don't Leave Me!" - 275 

"Send 'em Your Cards and then Get Down," - 289 

Mark Arrived, 339 

WiLL.'s Cry burst on the Still Air, . - . 343 



CONTENTS, 



CHAPTER I. 
How THE Captain came to be Captain, - - « 9 

CHAPTER II. 
Poor Sally! - n 20 

CHAPTER III. 
Father and Sally visit Camp, 28 

CHAPTER IV. 
The Tompion, 42 

CHAPTER V. 

The Meeting, 5^ 

CHAPTER VI. 
Forward, March! - 67 

CHAPTER VII. 
The Skirmish, 81 

CHAPTER VIII. 
The Flag of Truce, -..-.- 99 

CHAPTER IX. 
Bursting Shells, 113 

CHAPTER X. 
Honor and Oblivion, 122 

CHAPTER XI. 
Chicago Again, - - - 138 

CHAPTER XII. 
Achilles Hectored, 152 

CHAPTER XIII. 
"Will, Fargeon, You're A Goose!" - - - - 163 

7 



^ CONTENTS, 

CHAPTER XIV. 
Boat, Bivouac, and Breakfast, - - • - 176 

CHAPTER XV. 
The Affair on the Right, - - - - - 188 

CHAPTER XVI. 
Grant to the Rescue, 199 

CHAPTER XVII. 
The Forlorn Hope, 211 

CHAPTER XVIII. 

What Mac's Field -Glass showed, - - 225 

CHAPTER XIX. 
The Lady Burden -Sharers, 235 

CHAPTER XX." 
Hard Lines in Pleasant Places, - - - - 248 

CHAPTER XXI. 
Forward to Shiloh, 257 

CHAPTER XXII. 

The Sixth at the Battle of Shiloh, - - - 268 

CHAPTER XXIII. 
Battle, Murder, and Sudden Death, - - • 280 

CHAPTER XXIV. 
O, Where is Mac? 295 

CHAPTER XXV. 
Now for a Cork Leg, 308 

CHAPTER XXVI. 
The Fortunes of War, 322 

CHAPTER XXVII. 

Advance, Friend, and Give Countersign! - - 336 



THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 



CHAPTER I. 

HOW THE CAPTAIN CAME TO BE CAPTAIN. 




[H, Mr. Fargeon! why are men 
so foolish?" 

Her voice suggested weariness 
of some old subject, perhaps a 
suit long urged by him and de- 
nied by her. Her slender hand 
lay more heavily on his arm; and 
(as he saw by the gaslight they 
were passing) her upturned face 
was brightened by a smile that 
shone through its habitual seri- 
ousness like a star through rifted clouds. The face looked 
sweet and grave and perfect — almost saintly, surrounded 
as it was by a halo of snowy knitted woolen fabric worn 
to keep out the evening air. 
"Why are men so foolish?" 

"Because women are so fair, I suppose, Miss Penrose." 
"Pd be willing to stop being — fair, if you choose to call 
me so — if it would persuade you to stop being foolish 
about me." 

"Perhaps I might never have begun being foolish — if 

9 



lO THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

you choose to call me so — if you had never begun being 
fair; but now it would make no difference even if you 
were suddenly to begin looking like other women, instead 
of like a new-born angel, as you do this minute." 

"Some day, if I live, my hair will be gray — " 

"That will be becoming." 

"And my face pale and thin and wrinkled; my shoul- 
ders bent, my hearing dull, and my steps tottering. 
Will all that be becoming, too?" 

"Yes; lovely, if it is still you." 

"I can already see where the lines will run in my face. 
Now — when we come to that gaslight — look!" [She raised 
her beautiful level brows and wrinkled her pretty fore- 
head.] "And my hands — see." [She slipped off the mitten 
that covered her left hand and compressed the back with 
her right until it took on a little of the corrugation of 
age.] 

"How about the dimple?" [Dimple, on hearing its 
name called, promptly made its appearance in its accus- 
tomed haunt, Sara's left cheek.] 

"Oh, the dimple will turn into a wrinkle then." 

"What sacrilege! But I don't believe old Time him- 
self could dim the light of those eyes!" 

"Then I will put on green goggles, for I just long for 
the time when looks will be off my mind! Now, let's 
change the tiresome old subject. Isn't the lake air ex- 
hilarating?" 

They were walking briskly northward on the "long plank 
walk" which in those days (1861) separated the eastern 
front of Chicago from Lake Michigan. The ice was break- 
ing up, but not gone, and they could hear the sullen moan 
of floe-burthened waves beating on the breakwater, while 
all was blackness out there and overhead, except where 






HOW THE CAPTAIN CAME TO BE CAPTAIN. II 

some low- lying spring snow-clouds were silvered on their 
under side by the reflection of the city lights. 

"Yes, it is bracing. I hope it will brace up the boys 
to enlist." 

"How goes on the good work?" she asked. 

"Oh,- it seems as if the first regiments that went off 
had taken all the available men. Now we' re trying to raise 
this one in our own line of trade. To-day I got almost 
a hundred firms to sign a paper promising to continue 
the wages of any of their employes sufficiently to make 
army pay as good as their present pay." 

"You are certainly doing your full duty." 

"I do my level best. But what do you think! To-day 
Uncle Thorburn asked me why I didn't go myself! " 

Both laughed at this suggestion. William Fargeon, 
merchant, philanthropist, Sunday-school superintendent, 
temperance orator — with hands white, linen spotless, and 
well-brushed hair growing thin in front — a soldier! 

"What did you answer?" 

"Oh, I told him my forefathers were non-resistant 
New Testament Christians, and I had been so long taught 
to turn the other cheek I didn't believe I could fight a 
flock of new-hatched wiggle-tail snipe." 

"Of course you can do more good to your country than 
that would amount to! This meeting at the Wigwam 
to-night is of your getting up, isn't it?" 

"Your father's and mine; but your father's speech will 
be the great card. Won't it, Mr. Penrose?" 

He said the last words looking over his shoulder, but 
the quick-pulsed younger folks had outwalked the min- 
ister and his wife, and the latter were out of hearing. 

"Never mind," said Sara, "we all have places on the 
platform. But who could imagine you a soldier! ' 



12 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

"There's not a soldierly hair in my head — and not too 
many of any kind." 



The vast plain auditorium of the Wigwam (where 
Lincoln had been nominated for the presidency less than 
a year before) was cloudy with dust and echoing with 
noise. 

And such a throng! Lydia Penrose (Sara's younger 
sister) afterward averred that she was so crowded that 
she hadn't room to stick her tongue out; but this was 
perhaps hyperbole. Her youthful brother expressed the 
view that it must be a pretty all-fired crowd that could 
make Bunny hold her tongue, whereupon she obtruded 
that member at him in a manner indicating scorn. 

Flags, music, speeches, thunders of applause — it 
seemed as if the Union must be almost saved already. 
Fargeon made the best speech of the evening. Wit, 
humor, invective, patriotism; poetry — all were at his com- 
mand, and at every pause a fresh cloud of dust arose 
from the stamping and was blown abroad b}^ the waving 
of hats and handkerchiefs. 

On long tables in front of the platform were offered 
eleven subscription papers; ten for signatures of volun- 
teers for companies A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, and K, 
and one pledging money for expenses, care of soldiers' 
families, etc. 

How the latter filled up sheet after sheet, and how the 
other ten — did not! When the meeting adjourned, one 
company, K, had only eleven names on its paper. A 
committee was appointed to keep the Wigwam open and 
the papers accessible through the week. 

On joining the Penroses, as usual, Fargeon found Mr. 
Thorburn — "Uncle Colin" — with them. He was a canny 



HOW THE CAPTAIN CAME TO BE CAPTAIN. 1 3 

Scot — shrewd, blunt, outspoken ; a merry twinkle in 
his eyes and a sharp tongue in his mouth. He was a 
favorite with them all, and he walked home with the 
party. All spoke well of Fargeon's efforts, Sally being 
especially ready with approving words — all, that is to 
say, except old Thorburn. He preserved an ominous 
silence until he and Fargeon were alone togethero 

"Willum, ma lad," said he in his rich Scottish burr, 
which, by the way, he intensifiedpurposely or suppressed 
entirely, according to circumstances, " I mak na doot 
ye will be cockerin' up yersel' wi' the thought ye' re put- 
tin' in yer vera best stroaks for this gre't cause." 

"Can you tell me how to do better. Uncle Colin?" 

"Aweel, if all did as weel as ye, dinna ye think 
Sumter' d be takken back in a wee bit?" 

"Oh, I don't complain of what others are doing or not 
doing." 

"Noo, Willum, listen to me whilst I tell ye what'd be 
th' upshot if th' entire north wad rise oop and folly in 
your footsteps." 

"Oh, don't give me too much credit — " 

"Bide a wee, bide a wee, ma lad, until ye hear what 
kind o' creedit I'm a-gettin' at. Mayhap it'll no mak 
ye ower prood. Here it's. If a' were like William Far- 
geon, Esquire, evera last Yankee of ye all wad be seekin' 
aboot to find some ither mon t' gang doon Sooth an' do 
his fightin' for him." 

They walked on in silence. When their ways parted 
Thorburn said: 

"Aweel, ma laddie; all I've got to say til ye is just 
— good-night !" 

Will had one of his old wakeful nights. For 
the first time he began to appreciate what was the 



14 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

kind of feast to which he was inviting his fellow-citizens 
— what a wrench of heart and soul and body and mind it 
is for an ordinary man to say, "I will go to war. I will 
bid good-bye to all that I love, all my dear hopes of fort- 
une, my ease, my comfort, my safety of life and limb, 
and go forth to stand up before the armed enemy in bat- 
tle." 

Next morning he walked abroad, breasted the sweet 
spring sunlight — lovely, familiar, natural, unwarlike — 
and, with face pale and set, went straight to the Wig- 
wam. The twelfth name on the list of Company K was: 




[So used he was to signing the firm name that he did 
it unconsciously, and had to erase the closing part.] 

What abuzz went up and down Lake street as the news 
spread! Company K had its loo names before noon, and 
the regiment its i,ooo before night. The meeting which 
had been adjourned for a week had to be called for that 
very evening. The body of the hall was reserved for the 
enlisted men, the place of each company being designated 
by a little guidon. The ball was started and was gather- 
ing strength. The great building could not hold the 
spectators, and the welkin could scarce contain the 
cheers as those solid ranks of the ten companies showed 
themselves in their respective places. After the band had 
played the "Star Spangled Banner," Mr. Penrose opened 
the meeting with prayer, as usual, and followed with a 
speech of high and fervid eloquence. He held his audi- 



HOW THE CAPTAIN CAME TO BE CAPTAIN. 1 5 

ence spell-bound while he spoke, and even for a minute 
of silence after he closed, and then came a storm of 
cheers, with waving of hats and handkerchiefs, that only 
ceased when he again arose and asked a hearing. 

"This platform is short one man — its best man — the 
man but for whom we should not be here to-night. May 
I ask Mr. William Fargeon to — " 

But what he wanted Will to do could only be guessed. 
The cheers were wilder and more persistent than ever, 
and cries of "Fargeon!" rent the air. At last Will arose 
and the tumult died down, only to break out again and 
again until it ceased from sheer exhaustion, 

"Mr. Chairman, I am in the ranks, where I belong. I 
shall have to leave to some one else the work to be done 
outside of them." 

As he resumed his seat he knew, by inward conscious- 
ness as well as by public demonstrations, that he had 
made the best speech of his life. Already it sounded 
terse and soldierly. Already he was a man of deeds, not 
words. Yet his heart was troubled. 

The meeting adjourned, and again he found the Pen- 
roses awaiting him. He only got to them after his arm 
was stiff with hand-shaking; but they were very patient. 
All had hearty words for him — Sally not quite so fluent 
and clear-spoken as usual; but then her eyes had taken 
on what seemed a new and different shape and expres- 
sion from that he had been accustomed to in the years he 
had known and loved her in vain. They looked at his a 
little longer, and wistfully, as if studying something they 
had never found in his face before. Her mobile lips. 
too, seemed slightly changed and quivering, and her sweet 
face was paler than its wont. 



l6 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

"You'll walk with us, Mr. Fargeon, won't you?" asked 
Mrs. Penrose. 

"Sorry I can't. Not my own master any more, you 
know. An enlisted man now! Company K meets in a 
few minutes to ballot for company officers." 

"Oh, indeed! So late? Well, if you must, you must. 
Good-night, then. Come and see us soon." 

"Good-night — and good-bye! " 

"What! " cried Sally. 

"We shall take the cars for Cairo to-morrow night, and 
I have not hours enough to do justice to my company 
and my creditors — not a minute for myself." 

Sara placed herself directly in front of him. 

"You can't go — like that." 

"That is what war means." 

"I wish to see you before you go." 

"I have but twenty-four hours in which to do a thou- 
sand things." 

"One hour for me leaves twenty-three for the rest." 

He tried to smile, and gently, slowly shook his head. 
With a stubbornness in keeping with his new part he re- 
solved not to see Sally again. Away from her spell he 
could trust himself; but suppose he should see her and 
— break down! 

"I wish to see you before you go." 

The young beauty spoke with assurance, as to a sub- 
ject to whom her "wish" had long been law. But at this 
moment a voice called loudly: 

"William Fargeon's ballot for captain of Company K 
is called for." 

So he tore himself away and plunged into the work. 
Already he had missed his chance to do what he had in- 
tended — work with might and main for the election to 



HOW THE CAPTAIN CAME TO BE CAPTAIN. I7 

the captaincy of one McClintock, a man who had learned 
real soldiering by good service in the Mexican war. But 
the ballot was complete when he polled his vote — Far- 
geon, 99; McClintock, i! In vain did he protest against 
such action — decline the place — insist on another ballot; 
his voice was drowned in a storm of "ayes" to a motion 
to proceed to ballot for first lieutenant. McClintock was 
elected, and the roster of the company was soon com- 
plete. 

He thought, as he got up next morning — it could hard- 
ly be called waking, so broken had been his slumber — 
that he was going to have hard work to keep his resolu- 
tion to see his lady-love no more; but he was so over- 
whelmed with work of all kinds that there came no mo- 
ment when he had deliberately to deny himself the tempt- 
ing joy. 

Some far-seeing authority had requested that all offi- 
cers should provide themselves with uniforms before 
starting, so that at least a semblance of order and disci- 
pline might be maintained during the journey and on the 
arrival at Cairo. Fargeon was, of course, one of those 
whose energy and resources made it possible to comply 
with the instruction. 

Poor Sally ! She could not at all believe that, even 
after all her coldness, her bitter-sweet sisterliness, he 
would have the heart to leave her so. While he was 
working, she was waiting, waiting, starting at every sound 
that seemed to indicate the approach of her dear and 
splendid friend — her faithful lover through such long 
discouragement — now her soldier hero! 

"Going to war! Going to be killed in battle! I am 
afraid he never would run away — even if great big can- 
nons should be pointed directly at him and fired off — all 
2 



1 8 'J HE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

covered with blo.^d — nobody to take care of him — in all 
the noise and under the feet of the horses." 

Then she cried in pity of him and of herself. 

After the early parsonage breakfast came the hours of 
waiting, waiting, that seemed an age to her disordered 
fancy. At last she burst into her father's study. 

"Father, what are you thinking of?" 

"Of my discourse for the Sabbath, of course; what do 
you suppose, at this time, Thursday?" Then, altera 
glance at her face: "Why, Sara! What is the matter?" 

"Oh, father! " She burst into tears and kneeled down 
with her hands on his knee. "How can you — at such a 
time as this? " 

"How can I write my sermon? Is the girl mad? What 
do you mean, my daughter?" 

"I mean just that! How can you sit writing sermons 
when our friends are going to tvar?" 

"But, my dear, is not such a moment the very time 
when our thoughts should turn to the God of battles?" 

"Oh, father! don't un-iie znd talk.' Do, do something!" 

"Well, well, my love. There, there now — don't cry so. 
Stop, I say; stop at once — and tell me what you would 
have me do." 

"Oh, put on your hat and go out like other men. 
Oh, I wish I were a man; I wouldn't be writing, writ- 
ing on such a day as this." 

"Sara, my poor Sally, I forgive you, and I hope God 
will forgive you for putting other interests before His, 
even in these days. Will you pray to Him to do so?" 

"Oh, father, I can't stop to pray now — or to argue. 
Was that a ring at our door-bell? No, it's only the milk! 
Oh, he is never coming! Dear father, do one thing for 
your poor Sally now, won't you?" 



HOW THE CAPTAIN CAME TO BE CAPTAIN. 1 9 

"What is it, daughter?" 

"Just go to wherever Mr. Fargeon is and offer to do 
whatever he is doing, so he can come and see me — just for 
a few minutes. Makeh'im come! — just for a few minutes, " 

"There, there; get up, my daughter; I will do as you 
desire. My sermon I can — " 

"Now it's twelve o'clock. Do you think he'll be here 
by half-past?" 

"How can I tell, dear?" 

"Well, then, one o'clock. He must dine somewhere, 
why not here? If he can't come before one o'clock you'll 
come back and tell me just when he can come, won't 
you, father? Promise rne, now! You'll have to come 
home to dinner, j^ou know." 

The dear old parson was a man whose careful walk, list- 
ening look, benevolent smile behind gold-rimmed glasses, 
cordial recognition even of persons he couldn't quiie re- 
member, proclaimed him one of those saints on earth, 
more careful of the rights and feelings of others than of 
their own. He gave his beloved first-born daughter — ap- 
ple of his eye — the required promise and walked forth, 
as it seemed to poor Sally, with slower steps than ever. 
She told herself at once that half-past twelve was im- 
possible, but she watched the clock as that hour went 
by. Then she tried to school herself into expecting her 
father instead of her soldier at dinner; but neither ap- 
peared at one, at two, or at three — it is five o'clock, and 
the pastor's dinner has been kept warm for him until it is 
almost dried up, when she hears a quick, firm young step 
on the plank sidewalk. It stops at the gate, it ascends 
the porch and echoes through the hall; the parlor door 
opens and her father enters, alone. 



CHAPTER II. 



POOR sally! 




'HERE is Mr. Fargeon?" 

"I'm just going to tell 5'ou, 
Sally. Is my dinner saved? Let 
me have it at once, for I find myself 
famishing." 

All bustled about to do their service 
to the reverend head of the house. 
"Father, now tell me — " 
"Yes, yes, my daughter. Oh, how 
good this tea tastes! But to resume" 
(talking with his eyes full of fire, his 
mouth of food, and his voice of excite- 
ment); "I found Capt. Fargeon at head- 
quarters, where it had just been de- 
cided what the men were to take along. 
He was very glad to see me and said I was the very man 
he needed; said I must go out at once and buy 20 camp 
kettles, 200 tin coffee-cups, 200 tin plates, 100 sets of 
knives, forks, and iron spoons, 10 axes with helves, 10 
balls of strong twine, 100 double blankets — dear me, 
what did I do with my list?" 

"Then what did he say about coming here?" 
"Please wait, Sally, until I have finished," he pro- 
ceeded, dividing his time with much impartiality be- 

20 



POOR sally! 21 

tween eating, drinking, and talking. Poor Sara clasped 
and unclasped her hands with trembling eagerness. One 
might observe that she was a right-hander — that the right 
thumb was always clasped over the left — so she was born 
to be ruler in her household; but who can rule the 
loquacity of excited self-satisfaction? As one of his con- 
gregation once remarked, "Brother Penrose is a very 
fadd speaker. " 

"Well, I started out, list in hand. Oh, what could I 
have done with that list?" [He paused to probe a 
myriad of pockets in vain.] "Never mind; I went first to 
Brother Bangs. Said I, 'Brother Bangs, I want 20 camp 
kettles, 200 tin coffee-cups, 200 tin plates — '" 

"Yes, yes, father, we know what you wanted." 

"' — 100 sets of forks, knives, and spoons, 10 axes with 
helves, 10 balls of strong twine' — where can that list be? 
I believe that was all in Brother Bangs' line." 

"Then did you — " 

"One moment. Said Brother Bangs, 'Brother Penrose, 
are those articles for Compan)' K?' 'They are Brother 
Bangs,' said I; 'how much will they come to at whole- 
sale prices?' Said he, 'That is none of your business, 
Brother Penrose.' Said I, 'Brother Bangs, I never de- 
parted from you empty-handed, and I do not intend to 
do so now, though I know you are a Democrat.' Said he, 
'Brother Penrose, I shall demand full value for each of 
those articles.' " 

"What! Bangs, who goes to our church?" cried Mrs. 
Penrose. "Did he speak so, knowing it was for Mr. Far- 
geon's company?" 

"He did, indeed, wife, greatly to my surprise. But 
mark what followed : He gave the order to one of his 
clerks, saying, 'Send those things up to headquarters of 



22 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

Company K at once.' Then turning to me he added, 
'Now, Brother Penrose, you are going to give me full 
value for those things, as I said, and that's just one 
penful of ink, and I'll furnish the pen and ink. You 
sign William Fargeon'sname to that receipt, per Penrose, 
and the account is square.'" 

A silence fell upon the group, and some eyes filled 
with grateful tears. Just as Sara was thinking she might 
safely recur to the matter nearest her heart, her father 
began detailing his further experiences. 

"I wonder what I did with that list." [Further frantic 
self-searching, as for some ubiquitous but evasive insect.] 
"But to resume; everywhere was the same thing. 'Is it 
for the volunteers? Then tell us what they want — that's 
all we ask.' And I walked those streets until I had pro- 
vided every single thing that was needed." He beamed 
through his glasses on all about him (still refreshing ex- 
hausted nature), as if to say, "I am a humble instrument 
in the hands of a wise Providence for the maintenance of 
our Union — but I wonder what 1 could have done with 
my list !" 

"Father! Tell me this minute what Will Fargeon 
said about coming to see me! " 

"Why, daughter — in good sooth — I don't think I said 
a word to him on the subject." 



All adjourned to the sitting-room except the mother 
and elder daughter, who cleared the table and pre- 
pared it for tea and, as usual, friends dropped in and ad- 
ditional places had to be set at the hospitably elastic 
parsonage board. At each new arrival Sara glanced anx- 
iously into the hall, but no sign of Will Fargeon glad- 
dened her eyes. She could hear his name mentioned in 



POOR sally! 23 

the animated conversation that came from the sitting- 
room, mingled with "100 double blankets" and "can't im- 
agine what I have done with my list." 

Once she appeared at the door and called to her sis- 
ter, a glov/ing and prett}' miss, as breezy as her elder 
was calm and masterful. 

"Lydia, see here a moment, please." 

"Oh, Sally, you needn't make any mystery about it. 
What dish am I not to take any of to-night?" 

"The cold tongue, dear," she replied without even a 
smile, though all the rest laughed soheartil}'. IIow could 
tliey laugh in the presence of battle, and murder, and 
sudden death? 

But at tea it came out that Mr. Seward had said there 
v/ould be no fighting to speak of. The whole thing would 
be over in ninety days. Then her spirits took a sudden 
rebound, Mr. Seward was such a great man, and was 
right there in Washington, too. 

Yet Fargeon did not come! 

The soldier train was to start at eleven, and now the 
wretched time approached when there was nothing left 
to do but to go down to the Central station and mingle 
with the noisy, tumultuous crowd, bidding good-bye to 
the departing regiment. Thither they went —Sara and 
her father. 

"See, daughter ! Each man in Company K has one of 
my blue blankets rolled up and tied with m}' strong 
twine, passed over his right shoulder and under his left 
arm, and hanging to the strong twine are mj' plates and 
coffee-cups. The camp kettles are in the baggage car, I 
suppose — and the — other things — that were on the list." 

Sara saw it all, but did not see what she came to see. 
There was the interminable line of cars, stretching the 



24 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

whole length of the long gas-lit station and out into the 
darkness beyond — more than a thousand feet in all. At 
the cars marked "K" she saw some faces she recognized, 
for many of Fargeon's old employes had enlisted in his 
company. Little family groups formed about some of 
the men; women trying to be brave, and volunteers try- 
ing at least to appear so. No one could tell her where 
Captain Fargeon v/as. "Probably at headquarters," said 
they. "Perhaps at our house," thought she. 

The happiest fellows were the young, the unattached, 
the adventurers, the laborers, to whom this meant food, 
clothing, pay, excitement, a sight of the world; the less 
happy, those who were better off, who just now began 
to realize how sweet home life had been, and what a 
blessed state is that of peace and privacy. The least 
happy were those who had to "bear up" and tear themselves 
away from clinging arms, tears, kisses— sobs not the less 
agonizing because they were suppressed. 

How they wished that the parting were over and they 
speeding along the track! 

Eleven o'clock approached and anguish was Sara's 
portion. She would have liked to go out and stand in 
front of the engine; for surely they would not run over 
a poor forlorn girl ! But after all no such desperate ex- 
pedient was called for. Just as the station clock marked 
eleven she (having forgotten all about the uniform) was 
startled to see a slender figure approach, tall, erect, glit- 
tering with sword, sash, shoulder-straps, and brass but- 
tons; the face that looked out from under the smart kepi 
— Fargeon's! 

"Oh, where have you been?" she asked, smiling and 
crying at once. "And why don't you shake hands?" 

"Getting the stuff into the baggage-cars, " he answered. 



POOR sally! 25 

showing his gloveless hands begrimed with toil. "That 
kept me from looking for you and prevents me now from 
shaking hands." 

"Nonsense! Give them to me! I am proud to shake 
them ! " 

He turned aside and tried to beat off the dust while 
he said: "I was hurrj'ing fearfully — and as it turns out 
needlessly — for we shan't get off for some time. Seven 
men of Company C haven't got here from Aurora yet. 
Excuse me a moment; I will go and wash ni}' hands, so 
that I may clasp yours once more." 

He daited ofl; and while he was gone she overheard 
Superintendent Clark, whom she knew, talking with 
some one — probably' the captain of Company C. 

"Vou see," said the superintendent, "this is a big train 
— can't begin to make time — our regular passenger in the 
morning will pass it before it gets to Cairo. So we will 
start this now and let your men overtake you by the reg- 
ular. " And the}'' passed on. 

"Splendid!" thought Sara. "Now Will can do the 
same — stay till morning! " And when Fargeon appeared 
she was radiant at the thought and greeted him gayly. 
"Oh, Will! Superintendent Clark says the regular pas- 
senger train in the morning will catch this before it gets 
to Cairo. So you can go home with us and start to- 
morrow! " 

As the captain's face broke slowly into a smile, and 
slowly but decidedly he shook his head in regretful ne- 
gation, the color faded from her cheeks and the light 
from her eyes. Said he: 

"What! start out among the laggards? Let my men go 
without me? Not if I know myself! " 

Now, pretty Miss Mischief, what plot is working in 



26 



THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 



your small, imperious head, that brings the color to your 
face and the light to your eyes? You surely are not con- 
triving a plan to make your lover lose his train, just to 
give him a chance to repeat all the sweet things he has 
ever said to you, and you a chance to take back all tho 
rebuffs you have given him! Can one so young, so fair, 
be so deceiving? 

Alas that such duplicity should exist where we least 
look for anything but transparent candor! Let us watch. 
The first test point is: Will she tell him that Mr. 
Clark said the train should start at once? She says 
nothing about it. What next? 

She places herself 
leaning against a bar- 
rier, her face turned to- 
ward the train, so that 
he must have his back 
to it in talking to her. 
Then her guns are un- 
masked. She knows 
that he thinks her the 
prettiest when her hair 
is pushed back from 
her temples and tucked 
behind her ears, so 
back it goes. The lips 
part smilingly; the 
teeth gleam, the dim- 
ple establishes itself en permanence, the eyes— but words 
fail to describe their fringed splendor, their effulgence, 
their transparent frankness, just when they are engaged 
in the most heinous deceit— and then the artful tongue 




POOR sally! 27 

opens fire, with a fusilade of nervous, laughing, flutter- 
ing, flattering words. 

"Oh, woman! Only once deceived, and evermore deceiving." 

Poor captain! Ambushed, surrounded and made pris- 
oner, even before he is mustered into service! 

She sees the train slowly start — victory must be hers 
— but at this crowning moment her unaccustomed role of 
deceit becomes hateful to her. She cannot keep it up. 
Fargeon sees her face once more paling suddenly, her 
e}'es filled with tears, and the corners of her lips drawn 
downward like those of a repentant child. She seizes 
his hand, points toward the vacant track and cries: 

"Look!" 

He is off like a flash, running to catch the lumbering 
train, tearing through the obstructing crowd and disap- 
pearing as it closes behind him. Does she hvope he will 
succeed? Or that he will fail and return to her yearn- 
ing eyes? 



CHAPTER III. 

FATHER AND SALLY VISIT CAMP. 

H, how sorry I shall be if he misses his 
train! What will he think of me? 
And how sorry I shall be if he doesn't 
miss it! — goes away and doesn't think 
of me at all! " 

Sally and her father stemmed the 
tide of humanity which slowly came 
down the platform. Fathers, mothers, 
sisters, brothers, wives, sweethearts, 
slowly dispersed to their homes; each 
home now, and perhaps forever, show- 
ing one vacant place at the fireside; each heart holding 
one image which can never grow old or change, except 
to fade slowly from memory if the soldier comes back no 
more. 

When the crowd had gone, the station grown empty, 
and no Fargeon appeared, the minister and his daughter 
walked slowly homeward. They were silent; or 'if the 
good dominie talked, Sara took no part, not even that of 
listener. She gradually concluded that it was infinitely 
better that Will was not with them. "Better away wish- 
ing he were here than here wishing he were away." She 
had a revulsion of feeling. Her spirits had been low for 
twenty-four hours, and that is about the limit of sadness 

28 




FATHER AND SALLY VISIT CAMP. 29 

at her age. Her thoughts wandered from Will and caught 
what her father was saying — the close of some long 
monologue. 

"Of the two horns of the dilemma, we will choose the 
least." 

She burst out laughing. 

"Why, daughter — what is there to laugh at in my view 
of the case?" 

"Oh, father — I don't know — I've been so wrought up 
that 1 laugh at nothing, I suppose. It just struck me — 
the funny idea — a dilemma — with one horn larger than the 
other — we taking the little one — leaving him a poor, lop- 
sided — kind of unicorn." 

Her laughter, bubbling up and over, interrupting her 
speech, was so catching that her father was fain to for- 
give her and join in the fun — such as it was. 

This untimely, undignified, unnatural hilarity lasted 
until after she got home, and did not pass without some 
mild disapproval — the only kind Sara had ever to meet. 

Her mother (addressing nobody in particular) remarked 
that some persons would feel differently on the departure 
of such a man on such an errand. But some otJur persons 
had always seemed to think that they knew best which 
side their bread was buttered on regarding Mr. Fargeon. 
This gave poor Sara a new attack — her bread buttered on 
one side regarding Will Fargeon and the other side re- 
garding somebody else! So she could only take refuge 
in her own room and let joyless cachinnation have its 
way, followed by a few tears after her face was buried 
in her pillow. 



Letters between Cairo and "home" were many and 
pleasant during the early weeks and months of camp- 



30 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

life. Photographs sped to and fro and made those ac- 
quainted who had never met face to face. Fargeon told 
his friends about the absurd though natural blunders into 
which the greenhorns fell, and how in all trouble Lieut. 
McClintock was the never-failing resource. Mac cup- 
plied every deficiency and remedied every defect; Mac 
made rough places smooth; Mac was the captain's right 
hand, his guide, philosopher, and friend. Mac's steady 
devotion to duty edified the many who were eager and 
willing to do well. Mac's hand fell like iron on a few 
who were disposed to break rules. 

Listen to Mr. Penrose, reading out one of Captain Far- 
geon's letters: 

"Friends, I cannot tell you what it is to me to see 
Mac's face, at early morning, at high noon, by evening 
camp-fire. No countenance my eyes ever rested upon has 
given me so much delight except one," Mr. Penrose 
paused in his reading and smiled on his hearers. 

"You see, my dears, Brother Fargeon excepts ofie. I 
am gratified to note that he does not forget the j'ears 
through which he and I have fought in the Lord's war 
side by side." 

Sally did not laugh. She only reddened a little; but 
Lydia, the irrepressible, was not so discreet. She burst 
out: 

"Ho — ho! The idea of its being _)v?/r face he meant, 
father! " 

"Oh, Bunny!" protested Sally (Lydia had always been 
called "Bunny" and "Rabbity" because of two pearly 
teeth that showed below her short upper lip). "Dear 
Bunny, now please, please don't!" 

"No, Sally; I will not 'don't' nor think of 'don' ting!* 
Father must be told whose faceis dearest toCapt'n. Far- 



FATHER AND SALLY VISIT CAMP. 31 

geon. It's mine!" All laughed at this unexpected turn, 
and Lydia went on: 

"But mercy my! Who cares for him? If it were Lieuten- 
ant McClintoch! Mmmm! Why, Captain Fargeon him- 
self says that the lieutenant is the finest man that ever 
lived. I guess he knows." 

Mac was the subject of bitter rivalry between Lydia and 
her younger brother, and this dragging his name into the 
discussion prevented the question of "whose face" from 
being settled, for those two branched off into other mat- 
ters — whether Bunny was so might}' old as she thought 
for, and whether it had been "fair" for Bunny to shut 
her m.outh when she had her photograph taken to send to 
camp, seeing that she never kept it shut at any other 
time— and so forth, until Mr. Penrose put an end to the 
digression by going on with the letter. 

These letters were all very well, in their wa)', but far 
as possible from satisfying to the soul of the repentant 
Sara. Oh, if Will could only "read betVk'een the lines" 
of her letters as she could between the lines of his! Then 
he would know how sorry she was for — everything. Then 
a sigh, and a hope it would come out all right before 
long. 



In camp reigned toil and drill and study and heat and 
impatience at what the volunteers thought was an un- 
reasonable delay in Setting them at work; and permeat- 
ing all, the ever-present homesickness. Fargeon would 
have been really an unhappy man if it were not for his 
instinctive effort to keep up the spirits of the rank and 
file. This, and the comfortable presence of Mac, kept 
him cheerful at his task. 

Suddenly, one day, after the usual sun-beaten drill, he 



32 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

found as he took off his sword that it persisted in rattling 
as he hung it up; his teeth chattered in spite of himself; 
his hands grew blue and wrinkled with cold, notwith- 
standing the fierce heat; and his rude bed (a row of 
cracker-boxes), when he lay on it covered with blankets, 
shook as if it would go to pieces. lie wished he could 
get hold of a huge anchor to hold things still, himself 
and everything about him. Ague, of course! He had 
seen it in others; now he could study it to the very best 
advantage, for, in spite of the external fierceness of 
both chill and fever, his mind was strong and well as 
ever, and even his body was slow to succumb. 

Small use in studying it, however. He could not see 
through its mysterious, inscrutable why and wherefore. 
It did not last many days, and when he could call it 
"broken up," he yielded to the persuasions of the regi- 
mental surgeon and his brother officers, took leave of 
absence and carried his gripsack into the town of Cairo. 

He found a room at the St. Charles Hotel, on the levee 
— it was only a six-by-nine sky-parlor, but how palatial 
it seemed! A locked door, a glazed window, plastered 
walls, a half-carpeted floor, a furnished wash-stand, and, 
luxury of luxuries, a mattress bed, with a pillow and 
bedclothes; and (for the first time in so many weeks) a 
chance to undress himself and get between the sheets 
like a Christian. 

He fairly reveled in the simple, plain little couch; 
luxuriated in it; explored all its corners with his long- 
hampered limbs, and rolled his face in the pillow like a 
strayed child restored to its mother's breast. After 
hours of sleep he heard the dinner gong sound, and was 
glad to hear it and disregard it in the greater enjoyment 
of the blessed mattress, pillow, and sheets. 



FATHER AND SALLY VISIT CAMP. 33 

His rest and recuperation went on for some da3'S. The 
noisy, smoky bar and billiard room, full of soldiers drink- 
ing, smoking, talking, playing — officers and privates to- 
gether — had no attractions for him, but he did much 
letter-writing, and there was always the blessed bed 
wherein he found refreshment even in lying awake. (His 
letters suppressed the fact of his illness.) 

One morning he heard the usual tap at his door, and 
his second lieutenant, Barney Morphy, called out to ask 
how he was. He sprang up and began to dress. 

"Oh, Barney, is that you? I'm all right now, thank 
you, and will go to camp with you shortly." 

"By the way, Captain, here's a letter for you that came 
this morning." 

The captain opened the door and seized the missive, 
and as he read it Morphy saw a smile steal over his face, 
and a flush of pleasure over so much of it as the kepi 
had preserved from a general brown tan too deep to show 
blushes. 

"Oh, Barney, I beg pardon. We've got company com- 
ing. Our old friend Parson Penrose will be down to 
preach to the boys on Sunday. " 

"Ahem! Anybody coming with him. Captain?" 

"Well — yes. Part of his family may be along." 

"Well, nov/, hadn't you better just keep your place 
here? Not come back to camp to stay until they go away — 
the minister and the — part of the family?" 

Fargeon's heart leaped at the suggestion. Everj'thing 
seemed to favor it. Officers from every regiment in the 
brigade had taken leave of absence in order to disport 
themselves at the hotel, some of them in a manner scarce- 
ly creditable to the service. But good sense — or shall 
3 



34 1"HE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

we call it lover's instinct? — prevailed, and he put aside 
the temptation. 

"What!" he thought; "let Sara find me once more a 
civilian, staying at a hotel, idle and unsoldierly, wearing 
a uniform as a cow might wear a saddle, while a better 
man is commanding my compan}'? Well — hardly." 

So he got back to his quarters in fine spirits, and 
even entered his tent with something like a home-com- 
ing feeling. 

Was he walking on earth or on air? Within twelve 
hours he should see her ! He pushed his eyelids to see 
if he was awake or only having another of those 
dreams. He was awake. 



And the lovely Sara on her way to the meeting from 
which she hoped so much! How her ej'^es shone as she 
looked out -of the car window on the great, grassy, sun- 
lit, blue-gentian-spangled Grand Prairie! How the lids 
dropped when she recalled her gaze and found her face 
the cynosure of masculine eyes all unused to such visions! 
How she beamed with innocent triumph and with the 
happy anticipation of meeting — all her friends of the 
Sixth! Yes; decidedly, she had never been so happy in 
all her life. 

"Why, father, these men all have '39' on their 
caps! Is it possible that thirty-eight other train-loads 
like this have gone out before?" 

"Yes, daughter, thirty-nine with this, from Illinois 
alone." 

"I wonder where all the men come from!" 

"So do I. I've been wondering at it for a long time. 
But I fancy that the men of fighting age must be about 
all gone now." 



FATHER AND SALLY VISIT CAMP. 35 

What would the good dominie have thought if he had 
known that the stream would flow on until 175 such reg- 
iments should have been furnished by this young state 
alone? 

One man in the car, though so placed that he could 
have looked at her without rudeness, never did glance in 
her direction in all the long, long day's ride. On the con- 
trary, he seemed to avoid her eyes, and once, at least, 
she fancied that he held his cap beside his averted face 
on purpose to escape being seen by her. As he so held it, 
she saw above the visor the magic figure 6. 

So here, among the thousand and forty-five of the 
Thirty-ninth, was a man of her "own" regiment! Her 
interest was piqued, and she called her father's attention 
to the presence of a soldier who knew their friends and 
whom she would like to talk with. 

The minister, with the simple directness of his kind, 
went to the stranger and introduced himself; and the man 
obediently, though reluctantly, came forward. 

His was a repulsive countenance, marred with a dread- 
ful facial deformity which, because of the lowness of the 
sphere wherein he was born, had never been treated to 
remove or mitigate its ugliness. 

Sally gave one startled glance and then looked away, 
unable to disguise her instinctive repugnance. 

The man spoke in a broad Irish brogue, and his pecul- 
iarity interfered with his speech. 

"Yes, lehdy, I know the caftain. Me nchm's Marrk 
Looney, and I'm the caftain's ordherly. He's the foinest 
gintleman in the sarvice. He is — oah he is, he is." 
[This in a kind of hopeless monotone, the closing words 
nearly inaudible, a tone that would have been appropriate 



36 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

to announce something the speaker knew to be true but 
despaired of making the world believe.] 

"When did you see Capt'n. Fargeon?" 

"A Winsday, lehdy. I got three days' lave an' Vv'int 
uf to Chicagy huntin' things for the caf tain's mess. Meb- 
be the caf tain was expectin' your lehdyshif." 

"Was he quite well?" 

"Fehth he was not, lehdy; no moar was he bad. Jest 
a bit av a chill, wid the harrd livin' an' the harrd worrk. 
Ye may be sure the caf tain' 11 be well to resave your leh- 
dyshif. He will, oah he will, he will." 

At this Sally's heart softened a little toward the un- 
couth specimen of humanity, and she managed to look 
in his face, where (never losing sight of the blemish) 
she could see a pair of sharp, observant eyes that might 
have been almost attractive but for an expression of 
habitual suspicion or shamefacedness. The birth blem- 
ish gave his whole face a sinister look, and even his 
smile was a leer. 

They got to talking about the other officers. 

"What makes Mr. McClintock better than the rest?" 

"Well, lehdy, he was wid us in Mexico," 

"Oh; you were in the Mexican war, were you?" 

"I was, lehdy, I was, oali I was. I knew the liftin'nt 
there — he was ortherly sargint of my company. If it 
hadn't been for the liftin'nt I doubt wud they have left 
me into K company at-all at-all." 

"Why — why not?" 

"Well, lehdy — " he passed his hand lightly across his 
eyes) "fer raysons best known to thimsilves." 

They had some further chat, and at parting she gave 
him her fair little hand and a dimpled smile that belied 



FATHER AND SALLY VISIT CAMP. 37 

the mixed feeling in her heart — that it would be a relief 
to have him gone from her sight and hearing, and that 
she hoped he did not suspect it. [But he did.] 



Once more Fargeon finds himself in his familiar place 
at evening dress-parade. The interregnum had made 
him half forget how childish it was, viewed in the light 
of common sense. 

"ATTENTION— BATTALION! Shoulder —ARMS ! 
Rear rank open order — MARCH ! — HALT! Right — 
DRESS I FRONT ! Guides — POSTS! Present — 
ARMS! Sir, the parade is formed." 

While one is learning it he is buoyed up with the no- 
tion that there is some mighty hidden power and mean- 
ing in it, to come out later. Then when it becomes a 
matter of dull, mechanical routine, behold! there is noth- 
ing in it, except a reminder to each of those 3,000 men 
that he is no longer a human being, but is turned into a 
mere cog in a machine. 

Before the ceremony was half over Fargeon saw and 
recognized among the citizen on-lookers the face and 
figure of his dear Lady Disdain; that beloved vision that 
had been his daily thought and nightly dream for so 
many sweet, hopeless years. 

As soon as possible he turned Company K over to Mac, 
joined the new-comers, gave his friends his greeting with 
enforced calmness, and explained to them the mysterious 
doings before them. Then he guided them to the camp, 
Sally's wonder and delight growing with every word and 
every step. 

"Is this really your tent? Do you really sleep on that 
long, low, rocky mountain? Oh, what craggy ridges and 



38 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

chasms! Why, there is one precipitous cliff right in the 
middle! What is that ledge for?" 

"Oh, that's where one under-lying cracker-box sticks 
up higher than its neighbor. It just fits the small of my 
back. I shouldn' t know how to enjoy my night's rest with- 
out that — shouldn't know I was asleep." 

"And there's where you hang up your sword. Oh, why 
did you take it off? It was so becoming! " 

"It was becoming — tiresome. We don't care to lug 
them around any more than we have to." 

"I should think you'd never go without them. And 
here's your Bible, I see — no, it's army regulations. Well, 
that is a kind of Bible in these days. And this is 
the corresponding hymn-book — yes, Hardee's Tactics. 
'Shoulder arms! One time and two motions!' What does 
that mean? How can there be two motions of one gun 
at one time? Perhaps the man has two guns, one in 
each hand. What a splendid idea! Every soldier ready 
to kill two of the enemy! " 

The gay beauty was rattling on, all excitement and 
curiosity, when a message came from Colonel Puller, hop- 
ing the minister and his daughter would favor head- 
quarters with a call. 

"Oh, father!" she expostulated, "must we go? I don't 
believe they want to see me any more than I want to see 
them." 

"What do you think. Brother Fargeon?" 

Moved by a beseeching glance from Sally, Will an- 
swered: 

"Well, I don't doubt but that they wish to see Sara; 
but we can't have all we want in this world." 

"True enough!" cried Sally. "And besides, in Chicago 
it is customary for the gentleman to call on the lady be- 







39 



40 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

fore he asks her to call on him. You go, father, and say 
that I am sick — headache — sunstroke— frost-bite — old age 
— gout — anything; only that I can't come." 

Everybody might as well agree with Sara's views first 
as last. Her will was strong, her won't stronger. 

When she and Will were left alone together my lady's 
mood changed; she laughed less and less, and became 
more disposed to listen than to talk. 

"Oh, yes; mamm.a and all of us are very well, and evety- 
thing goes on as prosperously as can be expected when 
our thoughts are far away. Now why do you stand up 
there leaning against that pole? Come, bring the camp- 
stool and sit by me — there, between me and the door, so 
the light won't shine in my eyes — the sunlight I mean." 
[If Fargeon had been very clear-sighted he would 
have seen that sunshine was not the only light her eyes 
loved.] 

"Oh, yes; I am — as happy as I deserve, I suppose," 

"Yes; the old interests are still there, but — somehow 
— they haven't the old charm." 

"To be sure. We are anxious, and we are a little lone- 
some — at least some of us." 

"Certainly. The soldiers' sacrifices are greater than 
ours. That's one thing that weighs on us." 

"Oh, there's no danger of our forgetting you! If we 
tried we never could — for an hour! " 

And so on, little speeches and long silences. At last 
she broke down. 



FATHER AND SALLY VISIT CAMP. 4I 

"Oh, Will! Can it be true — that you are a soldier and 
going to battle?" 

Then she laid her hand on his arm and bowed her head 
on it and cried, not even caring whether her hat was on 
straight or crooked! Her father returned and looked in 
unobserved, but discreetly walked on. [Even middle- 
aged clergymen have some sense!] 

Her heart sank lower and lower, and she felt more and 
more desolate as the minutes passed. Will soothed her 
as well as he could, patted her hand and begged her not 
to distress herself. Then observing that instead of grow- 
ing calmer she was beginning to sob a little, he asked her 
if he should net get her some water — or call her father. 
She recovered herself with an effort and answered, petu- 
lantl}^, "No! Of course not!" withdrew her hand sud- 
denly, arose, rearranged her hat before the little glass 
hanging on the tent pole, smoothed her hair, dropped 
her veil and went out. She took her father's arm and 
walked away, Fargeon following awkwardly, wondering to 
himself, "What have I done now?" 



CHAPTER IV. 



THE TOMPION. 




^ALLY supigested that they visit the lieuten- 
ants' tent, the luckless captain following in 
silence, still asking himself, "What have I 
I^^T^^*IS^ done now?" 

At the approach of the visitors the sol- 
dierly Mac and handsome Barney Morphy 
hurried into their coats, laid aside their 
pipes, and greeted the minister and his lovely daughter 
with awkward cordiality, Sally responding with all the 
cordiality and none of the awkwardness. For some mys- 
terious reason dear Lady Disdain seemed bent on ignor- 
ing her older friend and captivating these new ones. 

"No, don't stop smoking! It looks so comfortable! I 
am perfectly enchanted with everything ! I used to wish 
I were a boy, so I could play base-ball. Now I wish I 
were a man, so I could be a soldier! It is so dreadful 
to be afraid,' as I am always, and as you never arel" 

"We are as much afraid as you are, only we are more 
afraid to show it," said the gallant Morphy. 

"If you were as much afraid as I should be, you wouldn't 
have to show it; it would show itself in spite of you. 
You'd tumble down dead and save the enemy all the 
trouble — unless he happened to be as much frightened 
as you, and tumbled down dead at the same time." 

42 



THE TOMPION. 43 

Everybody laughed at the picture of two armies all 
unanimously dead with fear of each other. 

Then Sara spoke of home. 

"There isn't a heart left in Chicago; you soldiers 
brought them all away in your haversacks. Every girl I 
know wants me to bring word what she can do for you. 
What can they do? Don't say 'nothing.^"' 

"Ask them to follow your example, Miss Penrose — 
come down and see us." 

"Oh, that v/ould never do! The St. Charles would look 
like a bee-hive in swarming-time. But really, one girl 
did give me something to give you, Mr. McClintock, if I 
thought, after I got here, that you wouldn't laugh at it. 
Now would you?" 

"Perhaps I should," answered the silent Mac. "We 
like to laugh once in a while." 

"Well, you may if you like. Here it is." 

She produced a little rolled-up thread-and-needle-case. 
It had a phrase embroidered on it, part visible and the 
rest concealed in the rolling, in a tantalizing fashion. 
Mac took it and read aloud in his strong voice, that 
seemed to make the little token more delicate by con- 
trast: "'When this you see, remember' — may I open it 
and see the name?" 

"Tell me first whose name you would like to find there 
— barring mine?" 

"Your sister's, of course." 

"Oh, you bold man, to take such a risk! Suppose it 
should turn out to be somebody else's name! Well, you 
may open it." 

He did so, and read out : "When this you see, remem- 
ber to put it back in your pocket." 

They laughed again. "No one could complain of lack 



44 



THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 



of laughter while Miss Penrose is to the fore," as Bar- 
ney expressed it. Said she: 

"After all, it was my sister who sent it." 

"Did she — make it?" 

"Of course." 

"With her own hands? 

"Yes; how else could she make it? With her feet?" 

Mac gazed at it long and curiously, his hard, soldierly 
face softening as he did so. 

"You are not joking with me?" 

"No, indeed!" 

"Well — will you thank her for me?" 

"No. She wouldn't thank me for second-hand thanks. 
You'll have to write." 

"I haven't written a letter to a lady since I wrote 
from Mexico to my mother, who died before I got back." 

"You can't begin that part of your education any too 
soon. You will write, and she will answer, and — " 

"Suffer is ready, Caftain." 

There was no mistaking Mark Looney's broken Irish. 
Sara recoiled from looking toward him, overcame the re- 
pugnance and forced a recognizing smile and a cordial 
word; and, after all, saw, by the dark, downcast look in 
his eyes, that he perceived the repugnance and the effort. 
She was afraid of Mark, and would tell Will so sometime 
— when they should be on speaking terms again. And she 
tossed her pretty head and went on devoting herself to 
the 5^ounger men, poor Will falling deeper and deeper 
into his puzzled gloom. 

"Why, I have been extremely careful! I haven't even 
hinted love to her since she came — never, since that walk 
to the Wigwam! " 

They all had supper together around the camp-fire. 



THE TOMPION. 45 

Milkless coffee was hard, and butterless crackers still 
harder; but then the coffee softened the crackers and 
the crackers took the edge off the coffee; and the cold 
ham was excellent — if it had only been all lean — and the 
wood smoke was interesting — in moderation. Why did 
it persist in following Sally's face, no matter where she 
sat? Well, in so doing it was only keeping in the fash- 
ion, for that was what the eyes of all the on-lookers 
couldn't help doing. The officers, from colonel to second 
lieutenant, the attendant orderlies (except MarkLooney), 
the more distant but observant rank and file, all had but 
one aim in life — to gaze at the lovely creature whenever 
they could do so without offense. 

Would Miss Penrose like to see the manual of arms? 

Miss Penrose thanks Mr. McClintock, and would like, of 
all things, to see the manual of arms. Mac whistles for 
a sergeant and whispers a few words, and in a short time 
eight men, the models of dexterity in handling the mus- 
ket, stand in the firelight and go through the time-hon- 
ored drill at the word of command. Next they do the 
whole thing in perfect time and perfect silence, no word 
of command being given. 

"Let me look at that musket a minute," said Mac to 
one of the drillers. He took the piece, and seemed to be 
examining it awkwardly, .as if he had never seen one be- 
fore, while he moved about enough to clear a space be- 
side the fire. Then suddenly he started into an exhibi- 
tion of lightning gymnastic tricks with the heavy piece, 
bayonet, strap and all. Here, there, and everywhere it 
flew — above, below, in front, behind, whirling like a 
catherine-wheel, first in his lefc hand, then in his right, 
then in both so that it formed a circling halo in front 
of him — until, finall)', he tossed it high in air, caught it 



46 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

as it fell, and came suddenly to "shoulder arms"* as still 
and rigid as a statue — a quietly breathing one. 

This striking performance was greeted with a round of 
applause, in which Sally's hands had more share than 
could have been expected from their size and consistency. 
But louder than the hand-clapping and hearty words 
came a chorus of "heigh! he-igh!" from a throng of excit- 
ed observers who had swarmed up from their tents as 
soon as the news went out that the veteran was showing 
his accomplishment. They had before heard rumors of 
it, but had never been favored with an exhibition. Even 
now Mac seemed ashamed of the business and said: 

"Please don't tell — anybody — you saw me doing such 
monkey-shines, " 



Slowly and reluctantly the fair stranger left the camp- 
ground, with many a backward look; spell-bound by the 
romance of the gleaming fires, the white tents, the deep 
shadows, the lines of silent, slow-marching sentinels, and 
the sound — that monotonous )'et varied hum — that jomes 
from the presence of many men in orderly liberty and 
busy leisure. 

They walked through the shadowy, balsam-scented 
pine woods. She hung on her father's arm, her heart 
softening toward poor, silent Will, and her gentle 
soul pondering how she could best make some advances 
toward renewed cordiality. 

"Oh, father — I am so warm! Could you conveniently 
carry my shawl for me?" 

'Yes, dear — I can manage it somehow, though I have 



* "Shoulder arms" in those days was equivalent to "Carry arms" in the present 
manual. 



THE TOMPION. 47 

my cane in my other hand." [As if she had not calcu- 
lated on that!] 

"Well— perhapsCaptainFargeon will oblige me with ]iis 
arm." 

Will tremblingly obeyed her behest, and she laid her 
hand lightly on his coat-sleeve. She took off her hat 
and hung it on her arm, so that the evening air could 
cool her brow. 

"You don't smoke. Will?" 

"No!" (stoutly). "I never could see why a man should 
fall into a vice merely because he is away from home." 

"What comfort the lieutenants seem to take in their 
pipes !" 

"Don't they! It's quite absurd. The instant they get 
through eating, or come off drill, or parade, or guard- 
mounting, out come the pipes." 

They neared the hotel. It was 

"Blazing with light and breathing with perfume." 
But the light was glaring gas, and the perfume was 7iot 
the incense which breathed in King Robert's banquet- 
room. 

"Father, dear, shall I go in and write a letter for 
mother, to go by the morning train, or will you?" 

"Well, love, suppose we both go. It is getting late, 
and Capt. Fargeon no doubt is longing to gel back to 
his canvas home." 

She looked up in Fargeon's eyes, a pretty, bashful, 
smiling question in her own; to which he only answered 
by pressing her hand to his side. 

"Well, father. Captain Fargeon must sacrifice himself 
for once, for my mind is not quite prepared for the change 
from the quiet of camp to the splendor of the St. 
Charles." 



48 



THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 



The dominie left them, and the matched but unmated 
pair walked on along the high levee to the place over- 
looking the junction of the mighty Ohio with the mightier 
Mississippi. There, outside the point where the embank- 
ment turns sharply northward, was a small bastion, built 
to hold a huge cannon, which pointed, sullen and silent 
like a couchant lion, down the Mississippi. Its traverse 
overlay the platform and its muzzle was depressed to- 
ward the water. 

The gun squad occupied a tent a little inland, but a 
sentry paced back and forth between the bastion and the 
walk on the levee. 

"Halt! Who goes there?" 
"Friends," answered the captain. 
"Advance one friend and give the countersign." 
Will dropped Sally's hand, stepped forward and whis- 
pered the word for the 
day, "Cherubusco, "and 
then Sally came up and 
they passed the sentry 
and walked out beside 
the big gun. It was 
soft moonlight; it was 
\deep silence; it was 
'sweet solitude; her 
hand was no longer on 
his arm; he could not 
help seeing that her 
waist was within reach, unguarded even by a shawl. 

He thought to himself: "What disaster might come 
to me here, now, in a second or two, if I had not had so 
many lessons, so many warnings." She laid a little white 
hand on the great, grim iron tube. To shut himself out 




THE TOMPION. 49 

of the way of temptation and catastrophe he stepped 
around the gun's muzzle, and so put between them the 
safe barrier of its mighty mass. 

As he passed in front of the piece he drew out the 
great wooden stopper and lifted it so that she could see 
it. He told her it was called a tompion. 

"Oh, that's a tompion, is it? I've often wondered 
what a tompion was; now I see it's what keeps a sol- 
dier's mouth shut — a cannon's I mean." 

"Yes. You see, it fits tight over the muzzle." 

"And do all soldiers have them?" 

"All cannons? Yes; if it weren't for that, the rain and 
snow would beat in. " 

"Naturally! And that would be dreadful! But of 
course they wear them all the time." 

"Always except when they are made ready to load. If 
it weren't for that, the moisture would rust the muzzle 
and extend down the throat — why, what are you laugh- 
ing at?" 

"Oh, nothing." [Struggling with her laughter.] "I 
always laugh when my feelings have been overwrought." 

"And have they been to-day?" 

She nodded; he thouglit of Mac, the great, irresistible 
lieutenant, and sighed deeply. 

"That night after you left Chicago I got laughing on 
my way home and laughed after I got in the house, so 
that I had to go to bed in disgrace — charged with utter 
heartlessness. " 

"Was the charge just?" 

She shook her head gently, in silence. Her arms rested 
on the gun and her clasped hands gleamed in the moon- 
light. [They had nothing else to do.] 

"Do you know, Will — Captain Fargeon, I have an awful 
4 



50 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

confession to make?" He shivered at what was com- 
ing — would have turned pale if his sunburn had permit- 
ted. "I was tempted into a horrid thing that night. I 
made a plot — you'll forgive me, won't 5'ou?" [He smiled 
in deprecation of the thought of blaming her. Rhada- 
manthus himself could have done no less, placed as 
he was.] "Well, my plot was to keep you from catching 
your train! I knew it was to start at once, and I did not 
tell you — tried to engage your attention till the train 
should be out of reach — only my naughty resolution failed 
me at the last moment, and I sent you away!" 

She covered her face with her hands. 

"Did you care enough for me to do that, Sally?" 

She replied with a nod almost imperceptible. Over 
the cannon he tried to take her hands from her e5'es, 
but she gently resisted, whispering between her wrists: 

"Have you forgiven me?" 

"Yes — if there were anything to forgive." Then she 
yielded her hands. 

He felt as if on the brink of a precipice where a 
thoughtless step must bring ruin. "I will not! I will not! 
I will not!" His heart-beats grew so fast and furious 
that she could feel them in his hands. He is surely going 
to speak — he does speak. He says: 

"Do you think your father will be anxious about us?" 

Her face blazed. Should she let her words blaze, too? 
No; one more effort of impatient endurance. She only 
shook her head and murmured: "Not yet; oh, not yet!" 
Their eyes are fixed on each other's, and she can only 
think /Wi7 words — those two little meaningless monosylla- 
bles, "Not yet! " 



CHAPTER V. 



THE MUTINY. 




[OT yet." 

Did Will hear other words in 
her heart, or read them on her quiv- 
ering lips, or feel them through 
her hands? 

The latter, probably; just as the 
blind may learn what the dumb 
would say, by reading with the 
fingers words expressed in the man- 
ual alphabet. What makes it prob- 
able that this was the medium 
through which a bright inspira- 
tion came to his darkened soul is this; it was through 
Sally's fingers that he responded. Having her hands 
clasped in his, just as he had drawn them from her face, 
he dared — with fear and trembling — to lift the pink 
finger-tips to his lips. 

The thin, frail barrier was breaking, was melting, was 
gone. Their faces inclined slowly toward each other, 
till his lips touched her forehead, just where the silky 
hair was parted. A little life-time seemed compressed 
into that moment — then he murmured: 
"Dear Sara! " 
"Dear Will! " 

51 



52 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

She let him separate her hands and lift them to his 
shoulders; and then- 
Why, then, his kepi fell off and rolled under the gun so 
that they could recover themselves with a hearty laugh, 
and so that he could make his stooping to pick it up an 
excuse to come round to her side. 

"Sally — my only love — is it true?" 

"True, Will — true for life and death." 

The next words he spoke were another whispered 
question: 

"Since when, dear? 

"Since the Wigwam— where 50U snubbed me, and left 
me to go home alone, and cry myself to sleep, and long 
all day to see you — and you never camel " [A few hurt 
tears would start.] 

"How much precious time I have lost! " 

"Yes!" (with a reproachful little returning smile). 
"And I began to think you never would — would — do 
what you have just mustered up courage to venture up- 
on' " 

"I am properly punished for cowardice! Court-mar- 
tialed and sentenced to be — promoted to the seventh 
heaven! " 

Then a few minutes later: 

"But sweetest, you must not forget that I had weeks, 
months, and years of defeat and disaster to recover 
from! " 

"Don't — iion'' t crush me with the memory of my folly!" 

"Folly? No; true woman's wit! It is better as it is, 
dear. Nothing could be better than this." 

"Well, if you are contented, I surely cannot repine; 
though I have been a little rebellious, since you wouldn't 
come to me before you left home that dreadful day, 



THE MUTINY. 53 

when I waited and hoped for you — and you never came — 
and you wouldn't even stay in Chicago till next day, 
when I wanted you to so much — and you looked so 
beautiful in your uniform — and to-day, the moment we 
were alone there in the tent, you wanted to call in 
father! " 



"Halt! V/ho goes there?" 

The words came clear and startling from the sentry's 
beat, and Will, crjing, "There's your father, I'm half 
certain! " dashed suddenly from her side, nearly carrying 
away her hat, and f^ew to the rescue of the preacher, 
who he ki:iew might be in bodily peril from the sentry's 
bayonet. Sally followed at leisure, and found the three 
men in conclave. 

"Is that you, father?" 

"Yes, my love. This gentleman with the gun objected 
to my following you, although I explained fully our re- 
lations and my peaceful purpose. He desired me to in- 
form him of some word or other which I should have been 
only too glad to do if he could have intimated to me 
what the word was." 

"Well," laughed Fargeon, "we need not quarrel with 
the sentr}', who, I am glad to observe, knows his duty 
and does it." He saluted the man and they walked 
away. 



After some wakeful hours and several "cat-naps" Sara 
got up, slipped her dainty feet into her slippers and 
wrapped the bedspread about her night-dress. She 
went to her wide-open window and stood there a 
long, long time, drinking in the semi-tropical night, the 
starry sky (the moon having set), and the distant for- 



54 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K, 

ests outlined against it — all making a peaceful contrast 
to her tumultuous feelings. 

Even as she looked, she saw the first gray of dawn 
appear away off up the dark, broad-rolling Ohio. As it 
grew lighter she could make out the shadowy, misty 
foliage of the Kentucky shore opposite, and the black 
masses of the gun-boats anchored in mid-stream. All 
was dim, silent, mysterious, and thrilling. The horizon 
grew slowly lighter and more clearly visible above the 
funnels of the steamers lying at the levee. 

There is a dash of red in the water. The sun is at 
hand. Now his glowing face peeps out, and the red in 
the waves changes to a long line of diamond-white spark- 
les. Just as his lower limb with a final kick clears the 
horizon, a flash of flame bursts from the port-hole of a 
gun-boat — the sunrise-gun. The sharp report follows, 
and after its noise has quite ceased, the echo comes 
back from the Kentucky woods, a long, sullen roar; and 
when this in its turn has sunk to a low murmur, the 
Missouri shore, off to the westward, tardily responds 
with a new growl of distant thunder. Again and again, 
some far-away point taking up the burden, the great 
sound reasserts itself, and rolls and rebounds back and 
forth, luxuriating in the vast silence. It seems as if the 
last mutterings would never cease. 

It was wonderful! Oh, if Will could only be with her 
(if she had more on), to help her enjoy the sublimity of 
the scene! She stood spell-bound until the advancing 
morn brought again the sordid, prosaic beginnings of 
human daily life; then, like a sensible girl, she tripped 
back to bed and (the calm majesty of the outer world 
having dulled the turbulence of the inner) slept for hours, 
only joining her father when he was impatient for his 
breakfast. She too was ready to enjoy the meal, though 



THE MUTINY. 55 

rather startled to find herself the only woman pres- 
ent. When she got over her shyness and looked about 
her, she could not help noticing that, at each of the 
little tables, the farther side was the one the men pre- 
ferred — so that they should not have their backs to her. 
Soldiers are so polite! [Dimple.] 

Oh, if people only knew — all that she was thinking of ! 
But no one knew. No one ever could have dreamed 
of such things, because nothing ever happened quite so 
thrilling! 

Fargeon soon appeared, smiling and handsome, glit- 
tering in his best uniform and happiest glow. f-Ie be- 
came the envy of all beholders as he tucked Sally's hand 
under his arm and they started forth; she in exuberant 
spirits, escaping the awkwardness of either talking about 
last night or being silent, by a picturesque description 
of the wonders of the scene at dawn. They descended 
to the very meeting-point of the giant streams, and dipped 
their fingers in each. Then they looked up at the 
great gun, and secretly clasped hands in ecstatic 
recollection of all that had happened in its unconscious 
presence. 

The}' climbed the levee again, stopped a few moments 
at the hotel, and then with Mr. Penrose strolled up the 
Mississippi side toward camp. The sun rose higher and 
hotter; and higher, hotter, and louder rose the saw-filmg 
rhapsodies of the cicadas, till they seemed to grow fran- 
tic in a fierce rivalry, away up on the tall, pale, ghostly 
Cottonwood trees. 

At eleven o'clock, the Sixth, in holiday attire, paraded 
in a shady grove for divine service. The adjutant had 
spent sleepless hours in studying how to form a hollow 
square (Art. xiv. Tactics, p. 229, Sec. 999), a formation 
very important — for purposes of parade. For fighting 



56 



THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 



service it was probably never once used during the war. 
One line (straight or crooked) two men deep, wherein 
every musket can be pointed at the foe, is good for all 
fighting purposes. 

The square formed and then brought to "parade rest," 
Mr. Penrose preached them one of his most eloquent 
sermons. How lovely the preacher's daughter looked in 
«fe. g^ . f her shade hat and her 

^i \ ^. ,1 "A >^ X il \^-«mThere bemg no other 

woman present, no one 
but herself knew that 
her own deft hands 
had made that dress 
'originally, and had re- 
■ made it, with toil and 
-care (needless) in pre- 
'paration for this very 
occasion. She was ac- 
customed to such la- 
bors, and felt paid for 
■vmany an hour of cut- 
ting, turning, piecing, 
trimming, when (after 
service) her lover re- 
marked on the exquisite taste of her costume. Glancing 
down he said fondly: 

"That is the prettiest outfit I ever saw in my life." 
"What?" [Dimple.] 
"Why, your dress and things." 
"Glad you like it!" [Smile.] 

"Why, it's wonderful! Who in the world ever got it up 
— invented it — designed it — contrived it, or whatever you 
call it? What dressmaker has the honorcf your patronage? " 




THE MUTINY. 57 

"Oh — it was May Dover, as usual." She looked up to 
see if he saw her little joke. 

"Miss May Dover? Never heard of her." 
"No, not mis-made over; 7C'e//-made over, by me." 
Then he did see it, and they laughed as if something 
very witty indeed had been said. 

At camp they found awaiting them Mark Looney, with 
a Sunday dinner prepared in the highest style of camp 
luxur}^ Fresh meat! Canned fruit! ! Condensed milk !! ! 
Sutler's pies !!! I It is fortunate Mark had not "made 
off" any more delicacies, or where could enough excla- 
mation-points have been found? There was positively no 
drawback to their enjoyment of the feast — for who minds 
flies on an occasion like that? 



The visit is done. She is gone. The sunshine has 
lost its gayety, the shade its calm repose, the breeze its 
refreshing sweetness, nature her charm, and duty its 
satisfaction. 

"I say, Mac, the tender passion must be a big thing. 
Why don't you go in for the tender pash?'" 

"Too old, Barney. You are just the age for the 'ten- 
der pash,' as you call it? There's the younger Miss 
Penrose — " 

"Well, I don't know but I will — if I can get you killed 
off first. No chance whilst you are to the fore; but 
just v/ait till our first battle ! If I have any kind of luck, 
you'll go dead and I' 11 be left — First Left., I mane — and 
have a clear field for Miss L. P." 

"Oh, you cannibal! Want to get me killed, wounded, 
and missing right off, do you?" 

"Killed, Mac, and killed dead, too. Nothing short 
o' that'll do me any good. You might lose all your arms 
and legs, and then your head and then your bod}', and still 



58 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

a woman — Miss L. P., for instance — might be mad in 
love with you." 

"Why, Barney, how do you happen to know so much 
about the 'tender pash?'" 

"Oh — I'm an Irishman." 

"That settles it. Well, go in, Paddy. - I give you 
leave. " 

"That's aisy said — you knowing I've not the ghost of a 
show." 

Mac laughed, and for a long time his face wore that 
same gentle expression his fellow-soldier had never seen 
there before that day. 



"Mac, why do you keep your tent all shut up these 
hot nights?" 

"Well, Captain, because I prefer it, on the whole, to 
the hospital tent up at Mound City, or the grave-yard 
close by it." 

"Why, isn't fresh air wholesome?" 

"Worst thing a man can have." 

"The beasts of the field and the fowls of the air take 
their air raw." 

"So they do their rations, but we can't. We need to 
have 'em cooked, both food and air." 

"The boys seem to take theirs raw for choice. Every 
tent-wall is rolled up to the pole. W^ien I go the grand 
rounds I think I am making a field-survey of so many 
acres of naked flesh. Why don't they all die?" 

"Well, sir, a good many of them do. And some that 
don't die have the ague." [This was a sly hit that told.] 
"And then, perhaps it's true that the mosquito-bites 
cure malaria — or perhaps there's so much flesh that 
there isn't enough malaria to go round." 

"Fresh air and exercise — a cold bath and a brisk run 



THE MUTINY. 59 

before breakfast — that's what I was brought up to think 
we all needed in our business." 

"Ya-as," drawled the lieutenant. "Maybe — in the range 
of Chicago and Boston, not Richmond and Cairo. In this 
infernal river-bottom you want to lie still, and breathe 
through a sponge." 

"What's a good fighting weight, Mac?" 

"All the flesh I can get and all I can keep." 

"Well, some of our brother officers don't look at things 
your way. Capt'n. Chaff erty thinks Company C's men are 
soft and over-weight — thinks 175 pounds is right for a 
six-footer, and so on down — and he's going to try to train 
them down to his scale. Colonel Puller agrees with his 
theory and approves his proposed experiment." 

"I know all about that business, Capt'n. Fargeon. A 
good deal more than you do, I guess." 

"What do you know?" 

"Chaff is going to have trouble with his men." 

"Where and when?" 

"Right here in camp, to-morrow." 

"To-morrow? Why, good heavens! I'm officer of the 
day to-morrow." 

"Then he'll shoulder off his trouble on you." 

"What's he going to do?" 

"Order out his company with arms and accoutrements, 
overcoats, knapsacks and blankets, for a two-mile stretch 
on the levee at double-quick; then a halt on the river 
bank, so they can go in swimming." 

"What will the boys do?" 

"As much as they have a mind to, and no more." 

"Company C are good men, Mac." 

"Yes, country farmers and farmers' bo\^s most of them." 

"Maybe they'll obey orders, live or die," said Fargeon, 
v/ith a gleam of hope. 



60 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

"But they won't," coolly answered the lieutenant. 

"Then what?" 

"Then Chaff will call on you, and you'll call out the 
guard to disarm the mutineers." 

"Guard? Company C is as. big as the guard, and armed 
the same." 

"All right; you can call out the rest of the regiment, or 
any part of it. Call out your own Company K, if you like, 
with me at the head of it." 

"Will you have our boys load with blank cartridges'" 

"Not a bit of it " 

"Won't you even have them fire high if they have to 
fire?" 

"I'll fire ball cartridges right at their belt-buckles." 

"Mac! what do you mean, when, after all, the poor boys 
are in the right of it! " 

"I mean business. To-morrow is very likely a test day 
— a deciding point for the whole future of the Sixth Illi- 
nois. If any man refuses to lay down his arms when 
ordered, and succeeds in his disobedience, then good-bye 
Sixth." 

Will groaned aloud. 

"Great Scott! I wish heaven would kindly remove 
Chafferty to some brighter sphere, or that somebody else 
had the job of backing up his foolishness with powder 
and ball — anybody except me!" 

"Why, Captain, this is the best luck you could have! 
A serious crisis — an armed mutiny to be put down, by 
tact or by force, and you outranking for the day every 
officer in the field; commanding the brigade and every 
man in it. Why, it's better than a battle for you! " 

"All the same, I wish you had it to do instead of me!" 

"It's all right as it is. Less likelihood of bloodshed 
that if I had all the respousibility. You've got the tact 



THE MUTINY. 6l 

which I haven't got. You'll use ft to-morrow, and I'll 
stand close by you with the force — you'll wear the glove 
of velvet, knowing that the hand of iron is right under 
It." 

"Mac, you're a trump! " 

"Captain, jou're the joker! '' 



A sleepless night is much the same everywhere. A 
monarch tossing on a bed of down — a fever-stricken pa- 
tient facing the phantoms of delirium — a mother longing 
for her sick child's final release from pain — a condemned 
wretch trying to forget the waiting gallows— a sentinel 
on post, in darkness, cold, and wet, and in deadly peril 
from unseen foes — a Chinese prisoner sentenced to die 
of wakefulness — what is there to choose between them? 

These are some of the thoughts that hovered about the 
pillow (so-called; in reality a pair of blanket-wrapped 
boots) of the captain of Company K, in the weary hours 
preceding the day wherein he expected to have the bitter, 
bloody task of subduing, by musketry, a mutiny in his 
own regiment — to shoot down good fellows, brothers 
in arms, who thought themselves in the right, and 
whom he considered to be more sinned against than sin- 
ning! 

He heard, in succession, all the guard reliefs in that 
long night. Indeed, the only knowledge he had of sleep- 
ing at all came from the fact that he had to be wakened 
to make himself ready for the task. Sadly he donned 
his uniform, bringing his sash not round his waist as 
usual, but over his shoulder, to indicate his temporary 
rank and responsibility — detestable distinction! 

Grim was his effort at cool indifference as he joined 
the mess at breakfast. He could not even command a 
natural smile when Mark laid beside his plate an oddly- 



&2 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

shaped and corded express package bearing his name; nor 
did he respond in the proper spirit to the curiosity- 
inspired hints of the others. 

"Don't hold back from opening your bale of goods on 
our account, captain." 

"No, captain; we'll excuse you! And, if you're short 
of time, I'll eat for you while you unpack the parcel." 

"Thank you, gentlemen; but (examining the string) it 
seems to be tied in a remarkably hard knot." 

"Now, captain, I am a great hand at untying knots." 
Fargeon shook his head. 

"The fact is, Morphy, " said McClintock, "I guess the 
captain sees an entanglement in that string that nobody 
except him can straighten out." 

Then the captain changed the subject and began to talk 
about the trouble in Company C, which they discussed 
long and seriously, the captain and the first lieutenant 
taking divergent views, and Mac being much more severe 
on the men than Will thought just. 

Fargeon was dreadfully startled when, after a pause, 
Mac rose and said with a very grave look: 

"I have finally decided on the step I ought to take, 
and take at once. Orderly, go to my tent and fetch my 
sword. " 

"What is it, Mac?" 

Mac shook his head in silence, and when Mark brought 
the sv/ord he drew it from its scabbard and sternly pre- 
sented the hilt toward his captain. 

"What's the matter, Mac? You resign? I decline to 
accept your resignation! Put up your sword until we 
talk it over." 

"Capt'n. Fargeon, I tender you m}' sword, and respect- 
fully but firmly insist on your accepting it." 

"And las firmly decline! I would rather leave the serv- 



THE MUTINY. 63 

ice myself! The company — the army can not spare j^'<?«/" 

The lieutenant stood like a statue, the sword still ex- 
tended. 

"Come, come, Mac! this is not like you! You are not 
going to desert me in this pinch! What did you promise 
me yesterday? And how can I maintain good order and 
military discipline if m}^ own officers won't stand by me?" 

No answer. Morphy laid his hand anxiously on Mac's 
arm, but the latter shook him off. 

"Besides, Mac, "added Fargeon, "I still hope that with 
a proper display of force we can bring Company C to 
reason without bloodshed." 

Here a twitching that had been noticeable in Mac's 
face broke into a full-fledged laugh. 

"Resign nobody! Bloodshed nothing! I only meant 
for you to use the sword to cut the strings of that in- 
fernal machine !" 

When the laughter had died away Fargeon said: 

"I'll forgive you, Mac, if you promise me one thing; 
that is, that next time you attack me with your sword 
you come on with it point-foremost. It wouldn't scare 
me half as much." 

Before they had done breakfast there was a loud call 
for the officer of the day; and Fargeon, merely stopping 
to toss the package on to the cot in his tent, hurried off 
to hold a consultation with the colonel and the captain 
(Chafferty) of Company C regarding the threatened trou- 
ble. It was decided not to interfere until there should be 
an overt act of disobedience — in that case to disarm the 
mutineers with such for.ce as might be needed (Company 
K to be called upon if needed) — then to punish them by 
an extra turn of "police duty," if no more severe meas- 
ures should be called for. ("Police duty" means the 
servile tasks of ditching, draining, and cleaning camp.) 



64 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

After morning parade, Capt'n. Chafferty (instead of the 
usual drill) had his men don their overcoats, knapsacks, 
and blankets, and start out for a "training-down", run ail 
according to programme. They obeyed his orders in sul- 
len silence; made the double-quick march along the levee, 
the sun pouring down volumes of heat on their heads, 
and the dust rising in a sand-storm from their feet. They 
threw themselves down on the river bank, declining, to 
a man, the proffered plunge. Then they marched home 
to dinner. 

Fargeon, through his- glass, watched with compassion 
the moving cloud that marked their run; but he was im- 
mensely relieved by their apparent submission. He ar- 
rived at mess late for dinner, in high spirits. There he 
observed, with a laugh, that some one had taken the 
trouble to bring the mysterious package from his tent 
and put it beside his plate. 

"All our troubles being now over, gentlemen, we will 
proceed to refresh the inner man, and then — " 

He picked up the package wuth a meaning smile and 
replaced it in easy reach. 

Yet the dinner was far from gay; for Mac ate in grim 
silence that seemed to say, "Over, are the)'? Wait and 
see." He evidently had heard something that lay heavily 
on his mind. And, to be sure, before they left the table 
a written message was brought to Fargeon, which he 
read, first to himself, then aloud: 

"Capt'n. Chafferty requests the immediate presence on 
the parade-ground of the regimental guard to enforce dis- 
cipline in his command." 

Fargeon hurried off. Mac put on his sword and direct- 
ed Morphy to do likewise, and then gave his orders: 

"Fall in, Company K! Fall in, men; fall in!" 

The men obeyed, and were marched to their usual 



THE MUTINY. 65 

place on the color-line. There, in full view of Company 
C and of the relief-guard, they, at the word of command, 
deliberately loaded their muskets with ball-cartridge. 

Mac scanned his men narrowly as they charged their 
pieces. His own face was almost unchanged as he gave 
the successive orders; perhaps showing a slight flush 
which his men, in after times, learned to recognize as 
a battle-glow, while his speech took on a slow, cool, half- 
persuasive deliberateness — a "battle drawl." [We shall 
all know it well a few pages further on.] 

"Handle — cartridge! Tear — cartridge!" 

Here he paused and walked along the front of the line, 
to see that no man bit off the wrong end of his cartridge, 
as reluctant members of firing parties (details for military 
executions, for instance) have been known to do, re- 
moving the bullet, spitting it out, and loading only the 
powder and wadding. 

The men showed various sentiments in their faces. 
Clinton Thrush was crying quietly — Mac knew he could 
rely on him. Mark was unmoved and business-like — he, 
too, could be trusted. Jeff Cobb, George Friend, and 
Tolliver, the marksman, looked pale and troubled — they 
probably had not made up their minds. Caleb Dugong 
was boastful and ferocious — he would fail at the pinch. 
Weil, the lieutenant could calculate on from twelve to 
twenty shots, and more if the resistance was flagrant, 
violent, and dangerous, including Sn appeal by the muti- 
neers to muskets and bayonets. 

Here is what had occurred in Chafferty's command. 
The men, tired as they were, had been mustered after 
dinner and marched out for a continuance of their "train- 
ing down." No sooner were they in column, and the 
officers giving the marching-time with the usual "Left! 
Left! Left!" than the men took up the cry with a sten- 
S 



66 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

torian "Rest! Rest! Rest! Rest!" that could be heard 
all over the camp. In vain did the officers command, 
'Silence in the ranks!" When they were halted they 
were silent; when they marched they shouted. After 
Chafferty had tried speech-making, persuasion, and threats, 
all fruitless, to preserve silence whenever the men were 
started marching again, he sent off for aid to the officer of 
the day, as v/e have already seen. 

Fargeon joined him in front of the recalcitrant line of 
men, standing with arms at shoulder, and the two en- 
gaged in a whispered conversation which Fargeon pur- 
posely prolonged until he saw Company K take its place 
and load muskets. Then he and Chafferty turned to Com- 
pany C, and in a voice loud enough for the men to hear, 
Fargeon said: 

"Capt'n. Chafferty, what lawful order have your men re- 
fused to obey? " 

"Among others, an order to ground arms." 

"Captain, you will please repeat the order in my hear- 
ing." 



CHAPTER VI. 



FORWARD MARCH. 




ROUND arms!" 

Not a man stirred. 
Fargeon felt the blood leave his 
face and surge toward his heart till 
it seemed full to bursting. He turned 
slowly toward Company K, and, with 
a mixture of alarm and relief, saw 
Mac come running toward him. Was 
he coming to say that K would not use force against 
their fellow-soldiers? He walked forward to meet his 
lieutenant. 
"Well, Mac!" 

"Why, Captain, don't you see the dam' fool has given 
an order that cannot be obeyed? Men do not ground 
arms from shoulder arms! The first command should be 
to order arms — then ground arms! The men are right in 
standing still! " 

"True enough, Mac! I'll tell Chafferty," and he was 
starting back when Mac recalled him. 

"No, no, Captain! Don't let him try them any more 
— just tell him you will take the command of his com- 
pany. You have the right." 
Fargeon took the advice. 

"Capt. Chafferty, with your permission I will take com- 
mand of your company." 

67 



68 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

Both men bowed ceremoniously. Chafferty sheathed 
his sword, while Fargeon drew his and brought it to 
his shoulder. 

"Attention— Company! ORDER— ARMS 1" 

Without a moment's hesitation, in admirable time the 
order was obeyed, each and all the musket-butts striking 
the earth together. 

"GROUND— ARMS!" 

Every man stooped forward, advancing and bending 
the left knee in proper form, laid down his piece, bayo- 
net to the front; and recovered his upright position 
em.pty-handed. 

"By fours, right FACE! Forward, file right — 
MARCH!" 

He placed himself at their head and conducted them 
to the quartermaster's tents. There he called for picks 
and shovels, and ordered every odd-numbered man to 
take a pick and every even-numbered man a shovel — 
always looking for the first act of disobedience. Not one 
showed itself, nor even an instant's hesitation. Next he 
marched them to the sinks, and set them at the disa- 
greeable job of filling up one and making another. 

They went to work with alacrity, even zeal ! 

Fargeon walked up and down behind these strange 
"mutineers," pondering much, and feeling his heart 
warm toward them with every blow they struck and 
every shovelful they threw. At last he halted, leaning 
on his sword, near one who was working somewhat apart. 
The fellow looked up pleasantly, and Fargeon met his 
look with a slight smile. This was evidently enough to 
encourage the volunteer to relieve his mind. Never 
halting in his work, he spoke (the dashes represent shov- 
elfuls of earth thrown out): 



FORWARD MARCH. . 69 

"Say, Cap, — do we fellers — look like we was — muti- 
neers?" 

"You don't work like it, anyhow." 

"No, sir-ree! — Nor we ain't! — There ain't no order — 
no lawful order — for anythin' that needs to be done — 
that we don't stand — ready an willin' to doit! — No, sir- 
ree! — We come out to fight — an' to drill — an' to dig — 
an' we'll do it — till hell freezes over! — Yes, sir-ree! — 
till the cows come home! — Yew jest try us!" Here he 
paused for some sign of assent or dissent — which Far- 
geon dared not trust himself to give. The soldier, how- 
ever, took encouragement (or obstinacy) from silence, 
and continued: 

"Wha' d'yew s'pose — an' wha' dooz anybody s'pose — 
we came aout fer? — Fer thirteen dollars a month? — Not 
by a jug-full! — not by a dam' sight! — Leave aour homes 
— an' aour farms — an' aour folks — fer bo3^s' wages an' 
poor-house feed! — * * * * jvJqI We come t' obey orders 
— proper orders — live er die — an'' git back home — if we're 
lucky enough — jest as quick as Goddlemity'll let us — " 

Another pause; Fargeon looking far away and winking 
and blinking rapidly to keep a troublesome moisture out 
of his eyes. His interlocutor perhaps saw the expres- 
sion, for his next words were: 

"Ye see, Cap, — it ain't every company — has got officers 
— like Company K has. — Them a tryin' — t' make us — 
ground arms — from shoulder! Chaff means well — so do 
the lootenants — an' we're willin' to mind 'em — fer the 
good o' the service. — But they ain't no call — t' try no 
dam' — fool notions on us — reg' latin' haow much — flesh 
we're to carry — on aour own legs! — Aour flesh an' blood 
— b' longs tew us — till it gits shot away. — When they 
try t' prescribe — aour fightin' weight — they've bit off 
more'n they kin chaw — they've cut daown — more'n they 



^0 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

kin cock up — afore rain. No sir-ree ! — Not fer all the 
wuthless Chaff— -that ever was blowed aout — of all the 
fannin' -mills in Ellenoy! " 

Fargeon turned away and walked the length of the 
working line, and then back again, saying: 

"There, men! Throw out what you've got loose, and 
square up the sides and bottom." When this was done: 

"Fall in. Company K — Company C, I mean." He 
placed himself on their right, giving the alignment with 
his sword. 

"Right — dress! Front! By fours, right — face! For- 
ward — march !" 

He took them to the place for leaving the tools; then 
to the field where they had laid down their arms; had 
them resume them, marched them to their place on the 
color-line; sent for the captain, and prepared to turn 
over the command to him. As he did so he heard from 
somewhere in the line: 

"Three cheers for — " 

"Silence in the ranks!" he shouted; and he was obeyed. 

After transferring the command he went to regimental 
headquarters, and with a very little argument got an 
order published and posted limiting the hours of drill, 
and the loads to be placed on the men in drilling, parad- 
ing, and guard-mounting. The "field and staff" were very 
glad to get out of their dilemma so easily. 



"Mac, would our boys have fired on Company C to kill?" 
"They wouldn't have had to, Captain. If the worst came 
to the worst, all I should have done would be to have K 
cover them with their muskets while the guard went up and 
disarmed them. If they'd resisted the guard — why, then, 
of course — " 



FORWARD MARCH. ^l 

"Then would our boys have aimed at their brothers in 
arms?" 

"Some would and some wouldn't. I should have seen 
that all pieces were properly leveled, but some muzzles 
would have been dropped when the triggers were pulled. 
Mark Looney would shoot to kill, because I told him to. 
Chipstone, Cobb, Tolliver, George Friend, the two 
Thrushes, and a lot of others would do the same, because 
they see the necessity of discipline at any cost." 

"Well, it's all over now, thank God! And we have 
nothing to reproach ourselves with. Thanks to you, we 
did just the right thing at the right time." 

"Yes; but Colonel Y. R. Puller has half spoiled our work 
by a foolish speech he is making to everybody, saying 
that the boys ought to come straight to him when they 
have anything to complain of I I always knew he was 
a regular politician." [What contempt he threw into 
that last word !] 

"But the boys must have some appeal from wrong 
orders." 

"Yes; but it ought to go up through regular channels, 
as the phrase is; 'Respectfully forwarded, approved' (or 
'disapproved,' as the case may be) by company, regi- 
mental, brigade, and division officers, clear up to the Pres- 
ident himself, if either party desire it." 

How delightful were all the duties of the rest of the 
day! Fargeon's heart was so light he could have sung 
aloud at every step; and even the steps themselves seemed 
to be on buo3^ant air. "Blessed are the peacemakers" 
rang through his heart unceasingly. Every face he saw 
was that of a friend and brother. The sun was softly 
bright, the leaves green, the breeze sweet — in fact, life 
was very much as it had been while Sara was there to 



72 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

glorify the world with her presence. By the way, there 
was her present still to be unfolded. 

At the mess supper no one had any reason to be sad 
or glum, and the rebound of spirits made the occasion 
one of great hilarity. Before long Mac called Fargeon's 
attention to the express package, which had been again 
brought out and placed by his plate. 

"Ah, yes, Mac; I thank you for reminding me of it — 
I might never have thought of it again!" And he took 
it up, scanned it once more with laboriously assumed 
indifference, and laid it down again. 

Morphy ventured a remark: 

"It's just the right shape and size for a fine revolv- 
er." 

"Yes," put in Mac, "but it hasn't the weight." 

"We're having the wait," said Morphy. 

"I'll tell you what strikes me; it's an infernal machine, 
sent down by some rebel sympathizer with murderous in- 
tent." 

"Yes, Mac; the intent to free the enemy from the three 
most valuable officers on our side; the three they're 
most afraid of — the captain, you, and me!" 

"Well, we're ready to die. Captain, is there any- 
thing we can do to help you solve the mystery?" 

"Now, gentlemen, don't you think it would be better 
that only one of us should perish? Just consider the 
interests of the Union cause! I ought really to return 
to my tent and open this alone." 

"No!" said Mac stoutly. "Never shall it be said that 
I owed my promotion to the heroic self-sacrifice of my 
captain !" 

"As for me," said Morphy, "the moment I heard the 
explosion in your tent I'd blow my brains out! Jinethe 




73 



74 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

brass band, I mane, and blow 'em out through me bazoo. 
But I'll tell you how we can rejuce the risk to a mini- 
mum; we'll all crouch down so that only our heads stick 
up over the edge of the table." [He suited the action 
to the word.] 

"Or, still better," suggested Fargeon, "put our heads 
down below and let nothing but our feet stick up." 

"Oh, come!" cried Mac, "let us say our prayers and 
die together. Die first and say our prayers after- 
wards. " 

'Well, if I had a sword I should certainly proceed at once 
to cut the Gordian knot." 

Instantly both lieutenants sprang for their swords, 
each striving to get his blade into Will's hand before 
the other. Both arrived together, and Will took both, 
carefully tried the edge of each, and asked: 

"Are you ready, gentlemen?" 

"All ready?" cried the impatient youths. 

"Well, then, here goes!" He cut the string in one 
place with one, and waited for the explosion; next in 
another place with the other, and so on alternately until 
there was not a bit of it left entire. Still no catastrophe. 
Then with a bow and a smile he returned each sword to 
its owner, and turning to Mark Looney, handed him the 
package, and said: 

"Be good enough to put that in my tent and not bring 
it out again until I tell you to. Now, gentlemen, what 
was it we were talking of before you were so kind as to 
bring me your swords?" 

The laugh was certainly against the lieutenants now — 
but not for long. 

While they were enjoying their first pipes after sup- 
per, chaffing each other on the manner in which the 
captain had turned the laugh on them, lo ! the captain 



FORWARD MARCH. 



75 



himself, puffing away at a handsome meerschaum and 
pretending to enjoy it. He would put the stem between 
his lips, fill his mouth with the smoke, remove the pipe, 
blow out the smoke as quickly as possible, and then re- 
peat the operation — to the great amusement of all be- 
holders. Even the imperturbable Mark was red with sup- 
pressed laughter — redder than usual. 

"Bravo, Captain! " said Mac. "You take to it like a 
veteran — just as I did at nine years old. Morphy, how 
do you think our captain looks with a pipe in his mouth?" 

"Well, Mac, if you ask me as a friend, I must say I 
think he looks like an angel." 

"I'm afraid, boys, it's only the fallen angels who 
smoke — and don't need any pipes even then. No ! come 
to think, there is something said in Holy Writ about 
praising with pipe and tabor." 

"Of course! and tabor is Hebrew for tobacker! Might 
have known it!" [Great laughter.] 

"Well, now," said Mac, "if any woman — anj' white 
woman under fifty — were to send me a pipe like that, I'd 
go and get my leg shot off so I could get discharged, go 
home and marry her, and live on my pension — twenty 
dollars a month." 

"So would I, Mac," said Barney; "or even if she sent 
me a needle-case." 

Fargeon now sat down with a rather listless air and 
handed over the pipe to be admired and criticised. 

"By the way, Mac, what is it a sign of when you don't 
know — nor care much — whether you are holding your 
head up straight or letting it wobble around?" 

"Poison, captain! Deadly poison! " 

"Humph! And is it generally fatal?" 

"Always! A single drop of pure nicotine on the tongue 
of an elephant kills him in eighteen minutes." 



76 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

"And on a man — is it slow or quick? How long have 
I to live?" 

"Middling quick. Not one man in ten — feeling the way 
you look now — not one man in ten lives to be over 
ninety." 

"Ninety!" groaned Will. 

"But, Captain," cried Morph}', "you don't seem to be 
very jubilant over the joke you played on us a while ago. 
Who's ahead now in that affair? " 

"Gentlemen," replied Fargeon, with all the sad, weak, 
bilious bitterness of seasickness, "you are avenged! I am 
thinking how dreadfully long it will be before I am ninety, 
and, incidentall}'^, how much it CDuld probably cost me 
to hire somebody else to smoke that pipe for all those 
fifty odd years." And he looked with loathing at his 
beautiful meerschaum. 



The nausea wore off, but a nervous, headachy feeling 
remained, which he felt must be walked away before sleep 
could be hoped for; so he wandered through the lightened 
darkness and busy idleness of evening in a camp of vol- 
unteers. 

Every tent was wide open, and all were filled with 
groups of half-dressed men, variously engaged, cluster- 
ing around candles held in the necks of bottles or in 
the sockets of bayonets sticking in the ground. 

Single men were reading, or writing, or washing and 
mending clothes. Here was one serving another as hair- 
cutter; there a little party talking war and politics. 
Sociable groups were plajang cards or draughts and look- 
ing on at the games. 

Will lingered longest at the tent Vv^here Clinton Thrush 
— he of the fine pale face and natural musical voice — 
and his brother Aleck were singing (and teaching others 



FORWARD MARCH. 



77 



to sing) a new patriotic song which Clinton had adapted 
from an old revival hymn: 






w. 



4*. 



^ 












^^\ r r r rlT-TTT- 






r-JXTTTYfri-it-l^ 



.1 i/yUh^ Smtt^i-^osajtrios . 







Will joined in the singing, and many followed his ex- 
ample, so that the fine marching tune could have been 
heard far, far out over the great rolling river. Then he 
left them and strayed on and out, passed the line of 
sentries, climbed the high Mississippi levee and descend- 
ed its western slope to the very water's edge, stooping 
and dipping his fingers in to feel the water passing from 
right to left in its fiow to the southward. The stream 
was so broad that he could only tell it had a farther shore by 



78 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

the slight irregularities in the forest top outlined against 
the starry sky. 



"Reveille" (pronounced revelee) is a wild, romantic bu- 
gle sound, thrilling to the young soldier. In a large 
camp the bugler at general headquarters wakes the echoes 
at some appointed hour in the early dawn or before; and 
the buglers at other headquarters, division, brigade, and 
regimental, take it up in succession ; each repeating 
the familiar notes in his own especial "k^y. He wakes 
the echoes; and he wakes thousands of tired sleepers, un- 
willing to bid farewell to their short repose. 

No use to rebel, no use to protest, no use even to 
grumble. Good-bye, needful rest; good-bye, forgetful- 
ness of toil, pain, and danger; good-bye, dear dreams of 
home. Good morrow to hardship. The day has begun — 
for trying labor; for certain danger; for death to those 
whom the unseen, unheard messenger of fate has selected 
during the darkness. 

Fargeon failed, for once, to hear reveille and attend 
morning roll-call, and (by Mac's orders) was allowed to 
sleep late. His agitating experience as officer of the day, 
queller of mutiny, apprentice to tobacco-smoking, mid- 
night prowler and scribbler on the banks of the great 
river, made his morning nap a very welcome luxury, and 
he was only aroused by wild, wandering cheers, starting, 
dying away and breaking out afresh all over the 
camp. 

Will sprang from his cot and began his toilet. Mac 
poked his head through the tent flap, and Will lifted 
his glowing face from the tin toilet pail and let the 
water drip, drip, drip from hair, eyebrows, nose, and 
beard, on the towel spread across his hands, while Mac 
asked in bantering tones: 



FORWARD MARCH. 



79 



"Dressing for the theater, Capt'n. Fargeon?" 

"Well, Mac, not that I know of." 

"You'd better; you've got to go." 

"What do you mean? What theater?" 

"Theater of war. The J. R. Graham takes the Sixth, 
the Aspasia takes the Twelfth, the Memphis takes the 
Thirty-ninth, and the Ruby takes the battery and the 
wagon train — all goes, 
bag and baggage, and 
three days' cooked ra- 
tions." 

The spread towel 
continued to catch the 
drops until there were 
no more to catch ; and 
then Will buried his ''/. 
face in it, hoping that 
no perceptible pallor 
had intervened, and 
resolute that none' 
should remain when 
he had done rubbing. 

So death was at hand 
at last! TO the amusement of all. 

"Get there? Get where?" 

"Nobody knows; but it can't be to the rear. It doesn't 
need steamboats to carry us there, being there already." 

"When do we start?" 

"Draw the rations now; cook and distribute 'em as 
soon as possible; dinner at noon and strike tents by bu- 
gle call at one. We ought to steam away by two." 

"To the front?" 

"Of course. I see two of the gun-boats are getting up 
steam to go along." 




PAGE 75 



8o 



THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 



The thought of the gun-boats was comforting, 
huge cannon carry so far! 



Their 



fi i\f ij j^i^^a 



J ceuf'c v^x:M*&tn.if>.J Can^naK^'isntii^j X 



dtiS 



En 



V~'~r~~i 



can:ritK.kJeet,n» ui ^ ffiot^Mt^ J[ 



E 



^m 






zzzs 



5 



2: 



Ca^i4raJ:i^ei&i.cp J ca^itr^t^'i^t^ u^ 3i 






zfs: 



caMCin,'%h, *ei*u /^ a^ ,. ^t^ 



^ 



^ 



W- 



r j^ 






W 



s^ 



jQl 



r-r -im^ "~~ 




^^ 



iS'^fiafOh, tfoHe-lAnn^ rer^@at^,a 



Capiaz^ts Pt/iyt^(^ aiC ^ 



CHAPTER Vn. 



THE SKIRMISH. 




HERE was rivalry between regi- 
ments, and even companies, in the 
matter of striking camp. The tent- 
pegs were all loosened, and, at the 
bugle call, the great canvas town 
sank into nothingness like the base- 
less fabric of a vision. In twenty- 
eight seconds by the watch. Com- 
pany K's men straightened up and 
looked about them — then burst into 
a cheer of exultation, for every one 
of its tents was down and tied fast 
in its ropes, while no other company 
in the brigade was within several sec- 
onds of the goal. 

The baseless fabric of a vision, 
when it dissolved, left a multitudi- 
nous wrack behind, the comfortable paraphernalia which 
volunteers gather about them wherever they encamped 
for long. "Pulpits and pianofortes" Mac called the cum- 
brous and unmilitary contrivances. 

"Looks like the sack of Jerusalem by the Romans, 
doesn't it, Mac?" 

"I guess so — though I wasn't in service at that time." 
"What ought to be done about it?" 
6 81 



82 



THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 



"Load the tents and the cooking utensils in the wagons, 
and then muster the men with arms, blankets, knapsacks, 
and haversacks, and march away." 
"Leave all the rest?" 
"The whole kit and caboodle! " 

It was but a short walk to the boat, however, and the 
officers allowed the men to load themselves down, even 
to the floor-boards of the tents being carried by many on 
their backs under their knapsacks and belts, while their 
hands and arms were miscellaneously overloaded. 
"Now what do things look like. Captain?" 

"Well, Mac, a little 
like the children of Is- 
rael starting for the 
Promised Land, loaded 
with what they had bor- 
the Egyp- 
lans. " 




Mac chuckled. "Ya-as. 
Just so. It takes you 
literary men to state 
things about right." 

To the infinite joy and 
relief of the rank and 
file, they had got march- 
ing orders "at last." To 
"dressing for the theater, these heroic, unsoldierly 
CAPTAIN?" page 79. volunteers, three months 

of drill seemed an unbearable affliction; although it is a 
space of time about long enough to get an old-world 
recruit through the awkward squad. 

Handling the musket and bayonet, marching, wheeling, 
facing, ploying, deploying, loading, firing, charging. 



THE SKIRMISH. 83 

halting, dressing, skirmishing, saluting, parading, for 
days and weeks (not to say years); all for the single 
purpose of bringing men into a double line, shoulder to 
shoulder, facing the foe; knowing enough (and not too 
much) to load and fire until they fall in their tracks or 
the other fellows run away. 

To such simple, mechanical, dull, dogged machine- 
work has the old art of war come down. No more "gau- 
dium certaminis, " no more crossing of swords or "push of 
pike," no more blow and ward, lance, shield, battle-ax, 
spear, chariot-and-horse; no more of the exhilarating 
clash of personal contest. N'othing left but stern, de- 
fenseless, hopeless "stand-up-and-take-your-physic" — for- 
tuitous death by an unseen missile from an unknown 
hand. 

Is not the time coming when the rank and file, the 
stepping-stones on the road to fame, will call a halt on 
their own account? When they learn good sense they 
will cry with one voice: "It is enough. We will have 
no more of it. " 

Whenever it shall become the rule that the man who 
causes a war shall be its first victim, war will be at an 
end. War flourishes by what Gen. Scott wittily called 
"the fury of the non-combatants." 

But to the average American brutal battle is better 
than irksome idleness. This found fresh expression when 
the men of the Sixth were clustered in groups on the 
many and spacious decks of the Graham, filling every 
inch of space where a human being could sit, stand, or 
lie. The few Mexican war veterans laughed at the im- 
patience of the new volunteers. Said one: 

"Why, boys, wha' d'ye mean? Here ye've had it all 
yer own way. Plent}^ of grub, camp fixed up like winter 
quarters — couldn't live better at a county almshouse — 



84 THE CAPTAIN OF COJ.IPANY K. 

nothin' to do but play checkers and draw pay for doin' 
it ! Ye'd orter be'n prayin' Heaven night an' day to have 
the War Department ferget ye. Yer best luck would be 
if the card marked Sixth Illinois was to slip out of the 
pack an' lay on the floor under Uncle Sam's chair till 
the game was played out." 

"Oh, shucks! What in thunder did we come fer if they 
didn't want us! Might have staid to hum and 'tended 
to our little biz. 'List for a soldier and spend our time 
diggin' slippery-ellum stumps out of a Cairo bottom! 
Idle month after month; two dozen gone to kingdom 
come, an' goin' on two hundred sick or discharged for 
disability! " 

"That's so, every time! It ain't right. If the head 
fellers don't know enough to git us to work they'd better 
resign, and we'll put in somebody that does." 
"They want to get a good ready." 

"Oh, shucks! They're like the boy that took a run of 
three miles to jump over a small hill, an' when he got 
thar he was so tired he couldn't jump over a caterpiller 
in the road! " 

The first speaker disdained to argue. He only drew 
out his pipe, and, producing a plug of tobacco, proceeded 
to fill it. 

"See that plug o' t'backer? We'll call that the Sixth 
Illinois." 

Then cutting off a bit he added: 

"An' that's Company K. Now see what next." He 
chipped the piece with his knife and ground it between 
thumb and palm to small fragments. "Now it's gettin' 
drilled, ye see, ready fer use." Then he poured it 
carefully into the pipe-bowl. "Now it's loaded onto 
the J. R. Graham, goin' to the front." He scraped a 
match on his trouser-leg and lighted the pipe. "An' 



THE SKIRMISH. 85 

now it's under fire and wishes it wasn't — wishes it had 
staid on the farm where it growed." 

Loud and long they laughed at this graphic illustration 
of the fate of the volunteers, but the very laughter showed 
that they could learn nothing from it. Poor fellows! 

Another group fell to discussing their compan}' officers. 

"Oh, Cap Fargeon means well. Cap's a good feller, an' 
a perfect gentleman, too, but he won't never make a sol- 
dier, Cap won't." 

"No! He's be'n fed on spoon-vittles all his life — can't 
never learn to stomach bull-beef." 

"Thasso! Takes Mac to do the hard chawin' !" 

"Gap's fustrate for this camp-trampin' an' book-keepin' 
business — psalm-singin' an' moral suasion — mark time, 
present arms, right oblique, tick-iacks, flubdub an' fol- 
derol; but whar'll he become to charge bay'nets an' the 
enemy in front?" 

"Boys," cried Caleb Dugong (a "blowhard" and favorite 
butt of the quieter men, who saw through him), "would 
5'e believe it, Cap wanted us fellers t' leave our tent- 
boards behind! " 

"Well, Cale, " said Jeff Cobb, ain't you got yourn behind 
now?" 

"Oh, shut up! He wanted us to leave 'em in- camp. 
Said we was a-overloadin' ourselves an' couldn't stan' it. 
Now mine jest fits my back — kind o' holds me up. Blamed 
ef I don't believe I kin march better with it than with- 
out it." 

"Say, Cale," persisted Jeff, d'ye know what I advise 
you to do?" 

"No; what?" 

"Why, whenever ye go into battle, carry that board 
along an' wear it jest where ye've got it now, an' ye won't 
never git wounded." 



86 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

A general guffaw burst out at this "burn" on Caleb, 
which did not tend to improve his humor. But he was 
brave, at least among his friends, and not easily bluffed. 
He turned to Mark Looney as easy prey. 

"What do you say, Looney Mark? You 'How you've 
be'n to battles where Mac was a-fightin — ain"t Mac jest 
about the right kind of a peanut fer a fight?" 

"Oah — the liftin'nt's all roight," replied the discreet 
veteran. 

"Well, how do you say Cap Fargeon'd pan out?" 

"The caftain'd turrn as white as a shayt — " 

"I'll bet ye! " 

"An' he'd shiver an' shake fit to knock the taytH all 
out av his head — " 

"I knowd it !" 

"An' he'd shtan' there, pale an' shakin', facin' the 
music, whilst most av you red-faced divvles'd be out o' 
soight in the rayr. He wud — oah yis, he wud. " 

This quaint expression of confidence in their captain 
was greeted with low laughter and other marks of ap- 
proval. Caleb tried to turn the tide. 

"Tell me a brave man would git pale an' be a-tremblin' 
like that! Why, the wuss things git, the madder I git, 
an' the madder I git the redder my face gits." 

"All right, Cale," put in Chipstone. "I'll stand b5^ye. " 

" 'Course ye will!" said the other, in a gratified tone. 

" 'Druther stan' by you than by Cap Fargeon. " 

"That's right, Chips! I oilers knowd ye wuz a friend 
of mine." 

"Well, it ain't that exactly; it's because I guess I'll 
git to live longer." 

Another general laugh at the expense of the helpless 
Caleb. 

"I guess yew fellers must a' found a ha-ha's nest with a 




87 



88 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

tee-hee's eggs in it. Well, laugh all yer a mine ter. I'll 
bet any man five dollars ye won't never hear my teeth 
a-chatterin' under fire! " 

"No, Caleb; not unless ye're tied there." 

"What's the use of a scairt man, anyhow? Cap's 
chatterin' teeth'd scare the other fellers." 

"Oah, whilst his tayth wor a-chatterin', av ye wor a-list- 
enin' ye'd hear em' chatterin', 'Shteady, b'yes, shteady; 
doa'nt hurry — ye' ve time a plinty— fire slow an' fire low! 
Shteady!' That's the how they'd chatter. They wud; 
oah yis, they wud." 

"An' where' d you be all the time, Looney Mark?" 
asked the angry bully. 

"Oah — shtan'in' somewhere' s thereabouts; or layin' 
down on me face takin' it aisy an' quiet-like, through 
havin' got through me job." 

"An' the rest of us'd be all runnin' away, would we? 
Is that what ye say, ye dam' little split-mouth Mexican 
Paddy? If I had such a mug as yours I'd lie on it all the 
time! " 

A shocked and angry silence fell upon the group at 
this brutal assault. Some looked with contempt at the 
speaker, some with sympathetic curiosity at Mark, to see 
what he would do. He leaned forward, with his eyes 
fixed on the ground, and covered his blemish with his 
hand, while in his disfigured face a look of patient ha- 
bitual endurance followed the discomposure; a look 
which might be interpreted, "I bide my time." 

"Well!" cried Clinton Thrush, after a moment of 
thought, "I'd rather be Mark Looney than any man 
who'd make such a speech as that! " 

"That's the talk!" added Chipstone. "Count me in 
there! " 



THE SKIRMISH. 89 

"Why, fellers! Mark 'llowed we was all cowards but 
him ! " 

"He never said no such a thing! " 

"An' if he had, what you said would go to prove it 
was true, regarding one of us, an' that's Cale Dugong. 
It takes a coward to make a break like that!" 

Caleb was "squelched" — didn't open his lips for an 
hour, and was not spoken to again for a day or more. 



Proudly and triumphantly, the Sixth disembarked 
when it reached its destination, with all its comfortable 
impediments. Gleefully it pitched its camp on the low 
bluff bank. Stoutly — though with some misgivings — the 
men look up the march next morning, loaded down with 
"pulpits and piano-fortes." Before they had gone a mile, 
however, some began to unburden themselves; Tolliver 
remarking: "I didn't enlist to be a pack-horse in Foot, 
Leggit and Walker's line." 

If Colonel Puller had asked Mac's advice, the men 
would have been forbidden to carry anything but the 
ordinary load of a marching soldier — twenty to thirty 
pounds under the best circumstances; but no such orders 
were issued, and all Mac and Fargeon could do (with- 
out causing dissatisfaction, by putting restrictions on 
Company K different from those of other companies) 
was to tell the men the folly of starting out with a load 
they would have to drop. This advice was heeded to 
some extent at starting, and bore more fruit as the day 
wore on, for before noon there was not a floor-board in 
the company; and even other burdens were greatly les- 
sened- The consequence was that at night K reached 
camp entire, not a man missing, after passing, during 
the afternoon, hundreds of exhausted stragglers from the 
leading companies, some of which stragglers never reached 



go THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

their destination until after dawn on the following day. 

Very creditable was this to Company K, but perhaps 
not an unmixed blessing, for when the orders came next 
morning for the Sixth to deploy a company as skirmish- 
ers, "to feel the enemy," a very slight examination 
showed that K was the one best fitted for the job, and K 
was designated. 

Fargeon found time to make a few hasty preparations 
for "whatever might happen." He wrote a farewell note 
to Sara — "to be delivered if I fall" — and inclosed it in a 
sheet containing directions for the disposal of his personal 
effects and his remains. He donned his oldest suit, so 
that his best might serve as a burial garb; and then 
thought of his own face, drawn and ghastly, showing 
through an open coffin-lid in front of Mr. Penrose's pul- 
pit when the good minister should say, in sad, sonorous 
tones: 

"Friends will now be afforded a last look at our depart- 
ed brother. Pass up the north aisle, please, and round 
and out at the south door, where the line will be 
formed." 

As this scene rose before his mind's e3-e he felt a 
choking in his throat and moisture on his cheeks. It 
was all reasonable enough; then why, in later years, did 
he laugh at himself with shame — keep the weakness 
secret, and never let it be known to a living soul till now? 

To "deploy as skirmishers" (as the Sixth had learned 
the trick) is to separate the men and dispose of them 
at intervals of six paces, keeping about a third of them 
massed in the rear as a reserve. Company K had now 
about seventy-five men for duty; therefore, twenty-five 
being in reserve, the remaining fifty covered a front 
of about goo feet in extent — about the space occupied by 
a resfiment in "line of battle! " To "advance as skirmish- 



THE SKIRMISH. gi 

ers" is for every second man to kneel, musket at "ready," 
while the alternate men move forward about twenty 
paces, (keeping the line as nearly straight as may be), and 
kneel in their turn, while their brothers go forward twenty 
paces in front of them; and so on until checked by the 
enemy or halted by command. [In retiring, skirmishers 
keep the same order — half halting, face toward the foe, 
while the others get to the rear of them.] 

Behold Company K at length on soldierly duty! The 
men flushed or paled, according to temperament. Sweat 
trickled down their chests, tickling as it flowed. How 
their hearts beat! How fast they emptied their can- 
teens! How their hands trembled! As Tolliver after- 
ward described his feelings: 

"I couldn't 'a' loaded my gun then to save my life. I 
couldn't 'a' steered a catteridge into the muzzle of a 
bushel-basket! " 

It was difficult to prevent them from firing whenever 
they knelt down, albeit there might be no enemy within 
three miles of them. They had strict orders against it; 
yet they sometimes fired, and when one did so the conta- 
gion was apt to spread along the line. The first offender 
felt the stinging weight of Mac's curse; and then Far- 
geon and Morphy, taking their cue from him, and the 
four sergeants learning their duty, aided in maintaining 
the needful discipline. 

Listen to Mac, stalking leisurely back and forth and 
drawling out in a voice clear as a bell: 

"Chipstone, don't get so far to the front! Your legs 
are too long; try fifteen paces. More to the left, Clin- 
ton! You're always leaning too much to the right! 
There! Steady boys! Kneel down! Caleb Dugong, 
don't let me catch you cocking your piece! You've 



92 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

Started the firing once — do it again, and you'll hear me do 
a gong you won't like." 

Fargeon listened to Mac with earnest attention, and 
tried to go and do likewise. He may make a soldier 
after all ! True, they have not yet seen or heard of a 
rebel. Well, when that happens we'll hope for the best. 
He thought to himself: 

"Now I ought to be hoping to find the enemy; that's 
what I'm here for. But I don't hope it — no — I hope I 
shall not hear or see one all day — or any other day — 
never while the world stands! I wish there were no 
enemy; no war; that I were at home where I belong. " 
And a vision of a domestic fireside, a carpeted room, a 
shaded lamp, a well-spread board, a tea-tray furnished 
with a bell to call the maid, rose before his mind's eye, 
and sweet, friendly voices filled his soul. It was a long- 
forgotten parental tea-table, and his widowed mother sat 
at the head. 

All vanished. Here again was the unfamiliar forest ; the 
loaded, leveled muskets; the enforced seeking for what 
he feared to find. 

Their advance had been through a wood, rather thick 
with underbrush; now there seemed to be a little light 
ahead — either a clearing or low ground. 

Now listen to Fargeon: 

"Forward, second line! Steady! Dugong, I have got 
my eye on you! Double-quick to your places, bo3^s! 
There — not too far — steady — halt and kneel down. Is 
that a clearing ahead? Now, first line forward! Double- 
quick! Now down! " 

Bang! 

"Curse you, Dugong — what do you mean? And you a 
corporal! " 

Had he really said a swear-word for the first time in 



THE SKIRMISH. 93 

his life? He hadn't time to make sure whether he had 
or not, for the trembling culprit spoke, 

"Ca-cap! I heard 'em fire on the left." 

"That's a lie! Not a man fired till after you did. Is 
your piece loaded? No? Here — give me your ramrod! 
now fire again if you can! " 

"Sha-shall I go to the rear, Cap? I will, if you say 
so — go to the guard-tent in arrest." 

"No, sir! Go on and learn to behave yourself ! 
What's that — -a fence? Halt at the fence — pass the word 
to halt at the fence! " 

"Oh, Cap! Gimme my ramrod, and let me load before 
I go up to the fence! I'll get killed, sure! " 

"Will you behave yourself?" 

"Oh, yes, Cap! I won't fire till I see a reb right in 
range." 

"Well, take your ramrod! Hello, Mac! what's the news?" 

"Did you say to halt at the fence. Captain?" 

"Yes. Let's take a look. Here! what's the use of 
standing up like that? Get down and let's take a sight. 
Here seems to be a field of growing corn and woods be- 
yond. What shall we do next?" 

"Skirmish right on across the field. I gi/ess we shall 
find some rebs in those woods." 

"How far do you think we've come?" 

"Oh, three-quarters of a mile, or a little better." 
[Fargeon would have guessed two miles.] 

"No danger of our getting out too far? getting out- 
flanked and gobbled up?" 

"No, I guess not. We must take our chances. Can't 
drop it this way." 

"You think there are rebs in those woods?" 

"Shouldn't wonder. We can soon find out by going 
over there." 



94 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

"Spoil the man's corn — and perhaps he is a Union man." 

Mac either said "Damn the corn," or he thought it so 
hard that you could hear him think. 

Just here a voice seemed to come from the sky. 

"Hi! I see 'em. Men movin' in them woods." 

It was Ben Town, who had climbed a tree, and whose 
example was soon followed by several others — so many, 
in fact, that orders had to be given for all to come down 
except Ben. 

"Well, Captain," said Mac, "will you give us the order 
to advance? Whenever you're ready, we are." 

"Why, Mac, if we go out in the open our men will be 
all exposed and sure to get hit." 

"We've got to go if we want to find out anything." 

"Suppose we fire from here, and see if we can't draw 
them out." 

"Oh, they're too sharp for that!" 

"Well, why not get a section of artillery and shell the 
woods?" 

"Why, Cap'n Fargeon, we can feel 'em and get done 
with it long before we could get a gun up here." 

"No, sir, never! I should call that a needless waste of 
life. Keep the men quiet here, and I'll fetch up a gun 
or two in half an hour." 

He started on a run for the camp, and halted to speak 
to Lieutenant Morphy, commanding the reserves — all of 
which force was fuming with impatience and curiosity — 
and reached headquarters in less than ten minutes, much 
to his surprise, for he could not get rid of the feeling 
that they had skirmished over many times as much 
ground as they had really passed. 

On reaching Col. Puller's tent Will opened his mouth 
to speak, and found, to his surprise, dismay, horror, that 
he could not utter a syllable! His mind was clear, his 



THE SKIRMISH. 95 

words were ready, but, miraculous to relate, his tongue 
"clave to the roof of his mouth," and the muscles of his 
throat refused to act. 

"Why, Capt'nFargeon! Are you wounded? Are you 
sick? What is the matter? Major, get the captain a 
glass of whisky." 

Will could only manage a ghastly grin and an imbecile 
chuckle as he sank into a seat. The colonel poured some 
whisky into a cup. Fargeon took the cup with per- 
fect composure, steadily added a quantity of water, and 
drank the mixture. He put his hand to his throat, found 
all apparently in order, tried once more to speak, and 
succeeded. 

"Excuse me. Colonel. I suppose I ran too fast — never 
felt so before in my life; hope I never shall again." 

Poor fellow! Many another citizen soldier has felt 
so; some as often as they took part in a battle; some 
only on their first experience. 

He made his report and the suggestion as to the aid he 
would like to have in the shape of a cannon or two. The 
colonel, being green like himself, thought it an excellent 
suggestion. [It takes some years of war and the loss of 
many guns to teach the lesson that artillery is a very 
poor rcconnoitering arm.] 

While the colonel went off to brigade headquarters to 
ask for the guns, Fargeon retired to his tent for a 
moment to get some food. He fancied that the light- 
ness of his breakfast might account for his extraordinary 
temporary paralysis of the throat. There he saw Mark 
Looney, told him of the experiences of the company 
thus far, and ordered him to help the company's cooks 
fill two cracker-boxes with food and bring them to the 
men on the skirmish line as soon as possible. 

"Begorra, Caftain — that's the best news I heard since 



96 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

me stef-falher's funeral! I was afeard I was goin' to 
be left out here in the coald! I was — oah, I was!" 

"Why," said Will to himself, "I believe he'd rather 
go than stay here! " 

"There," he went on, as he took his way hurriedly to 
the front, "that shows I am not frightened. A man in a 
panic does not have his wits about him and attend to 
business like that. Why, I can talk as well as anybody! 
I can sing." And he sang low, but clear: 

"I wonder why all saints don't sing." 

"Frightened! Of course I'm not! Only excited. 
Never felt better in my life! My heart feels warm — 
glowing." 

Then, after a few steps: 

"Great Scott! Can this be the whisky? Heavens and 
earth— I believe it is! Ho-ho! But I don't care! So 
this is what the joy of drink is like, is it? Contented 
self-conceit! Well, there is something rather pleasant 
about it — if it only lasted forever! 

"Ha! What's that? Firing on our line? Can Mac 
have disobeyed me and pushed forward? And the guns 
just coming? Lives lost for nothing! Oh, Mac, I 
didn't think it of you — I didn't think it of )'ou! My 
poor boys! 

"God! How they rattle! Hark! What's that?" 
For he heard, far above him, a long, sharp wail, be- 
ginning high in the scale and nearly overhead; then 
lower, lower, as it died away in the distance behind 
him. "W-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-p," it seemed to say. 
It was the first hostile bullet he ever heard. 

He walked on, but more slowly. He instinctively 
directed his steps behind trees that stood near where his 
way led. Then a bullet passed him at his own level — 



THE SKIRMISH. 97 

"Whip!" Then another that lodged in a tree — "Hitt! " 
Then something struck lightly on his kepi — it was only 
a twig that had been cut off by one of the high-flying 
balls, but, at the same instant, "Spatt!" a bullet struck 
the ground at his right, and he rushed up to a tree in 
front of him and leaned, panting, against it, with both 
hands on the trunk. It was a white-oak, and the rough 
gray bark impressed on his staring e3'eballs a picture of 
its long, pointed, diamond-shaped corrugations, which he 
never forgot. 

"Why am I halting here? Because I cannot go on! It 
is settled — the long doubt is over — I am a coward. My 
poor boys are in front of me; shame and disgrace are 
behind rne — are here with me. Yet I cannot quit this 
shelter. God help me, I cannot! Oh, if I could take a 
bullet in my hand — my arm — anywhere but in my face!" 
He thrust his hand out as far as he could reach, abso- 
lutely expecting it to be hit. 

"Oh, God! Send a bullet through my hand — my arm! 
Then I could lose a limb and go back home — my dear 
home — where I belong." 

He brought back his hand against the tree trunk; and 
between his thumbs pressed his forehead hard against 
the flinty bark, and rolled it from side to side, as if to 
get a little bodily pain to assuage his mental agony. 

"How they screech and scream! Oh, my dear home! 
I will never marry Sally. I will tell her how unworthy 
I am — and then bury my shame in solitude." 

"What's that? Who said 'Come on, Ed?' Why — 
there's Mark — poor, simple-hearted little Mark — marching 
forward as if on parade, with a cracker-box of provisions 
on his shoulder, and Ed Ranny behind him! I am 
saved. Thank God, they did not see me ! I must get to 
the line before they do, or die in my tracks." 
7 



gS THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K, 

He darted past the tree on the side furthest from 
Mark, put his head down and ran like a racer to the 
front. The motion, the effort of mind and body, gave 
him new life. He passed the place where the reserve 
had stood, and observed that they had moved up to the 
support of their brothers. 

When nearly in sight of the fence he saw — almost 
stepped on — the body of a man lying on his face behind 
a log. The soldier's musket lay by his side; a corpor- 
al's chevrons were visible on his sleeve; and Will 
thought he recognized Dugong's stalwart form. Far- 
geon's heart seemed to stand still; but his legs kept 
moving and carried him whither his soul impelled. He 
was still afraid; but panic-stricken ("stampeded") no 
longer. He remembered Mac's saying: "The ball you 
hear never hits you; the ball that hits you, you never 
hear; " and tried, with some success, to gain comfort 
from it, aided by the wonderful fact that he was still alive. 

The enemy had deployed a line of skirmishers and 
were advancing doggedly across the open, in alternate 
steps, as has already been described. Our boys were 
crouching and firing through the fence, with every advan- 
tage on their side. Some stood erect, firing coolly over 
the top of the rail. Mac walked up and down, talking 
incessantly, in his fighting drawl: 

"Steady now, boys — don't waste your shots. Aim! aim 
now; aim every time, and aim low. Carberry, you fired 
almost before your gun touched your shoulder; might 
just as well have fired into the river! There! bully for 
you. Chip! You fetched him! They won' t make another 
step forward, see if they do ! What did I tell you? They 
are picking him up — that means they're going! Now, when 
they get started, over the fence and after 'em! Now's 
your time! Forward! FORWARD, COMPANY K !" 



CHAPTER VIII. 



THE FLAG OF TRUCE. 




WILD cheer rose, and Company K 
swarmed over the barrier, firing and 
loading on the run as they went. Far- 
geon was with them, running, shout- 
ing, waving his sword, till suddenly he 
saw one of his men stumble, fall for- 
ward, and not get up again. The man 
next the fallen one dropped his gun 
f/L^^ ' ^^'^ called to another to do the same, 
N>>« ^ and the two, in less time than it takes 

to tell it, had their hurt comrade raised up between 
them. 

"What are you about?" screamed McClintock with a 
volley of curses. "Drop that man, * * * ^nd take 
your guns again! " 

"Why, lieutenant — he's wounded — his leg's broke — 
and he's my brother, De Witt Clinton Thrush." 

"I don't care if he's your sister! Drop him and take 
your gun! " 

Poor Aleck obeyed; laid down his burden, tenderly 
kissed the pale face, rose with tears streaming from his 
eyes, loaded his piece, crying — still crying, went forward 
to the firing line, and cried and fought, and fought and 
cried, as long as there was any fighting to do. Country — 
duty — glory? Yes; but turning your back on an only 

99 



I GO THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

brother, a heart's twin, moaning in deep distress and 
bleeding to death for want of your help! 

The advance was tumultuous, yet not rapid, for the 
brave confederates fought well. With shrieking bullets, 
scattered puffs of smoke, and sharp reports, now soft- 
ened by distance, now near and deafening, the onward 
surge of Company K carried it some distance beyond 
where poor Clint Thrush lay moaning. He saw two of 
his comrades hurrying to the rear, and called to them 
with all his feeble strength, for help; but they paid no 
attention; they were nursing wounds of their own. 

Mark Looney passed him going toward the fray, and 
Clinton begged piteously to be carried back. 

"Arrah, me bye; tehk me canteen an' gimme yer gun 
an' yer cathridge-box! I'll jest give them divvies wan 
or two blessin's in yer oan name; an' thin I'll come back 
an' carry ye in like a lehdy a-ridin' in a coach an' four." 
And he too was gone. 

An officer from brigade headquarters came to the fence 
and shouted for Captain Fargeon. Nobody paid any atten- 
tion to him, so he was forced, against his will, to come 
on into the melee, making a detour to avoid running 
over Clinton. 

"Captain, I have orders from Gen. Peterkin that you 
are to halt as soon as you have developed the enemy's 
position, and retire at your discretion." 

Fargeon called McClintock to him and communicated 
the message. Said Mac: 

"Well, that means now. They are firing strongly 
from the woods; only, their own men being between 
them and us, they are forced to fire high." 

"Very well, sir. You have the general's orders." 
And the relieved aide darted for the rear. Mac went 
one way and Fargeon the other, shouting, "Back! back! " 



THE FLAG OF TRUCE. lOI 

and motioning toward the fence; and the excited men 
reluctantly began their retreat, luckily, before the con- 
cealed portion of their foes got a fair chance at them. 
They brought in the confederate wounded (such as fell 
into their hands) with as much tenderness as was pos- 
sible in the haste and confusion. The dead they left as 
they lay. Fargeon went to poor Clint Thrush, and, with 
help from Aleck and others, got him to the fence, where 
the boys quickly laid down a length of rails to pass him 
through. The transit was not made without some groans, 
and one cry that was almost a scream. Sharp bone ends 
were evidently loose in his flesh. 

Then all the wounded were clustered together waiting 
for transportation homeward. 

"I wonder if anybody will have sense enough to send 
us some stretchers! Oh, yes; here they come. Thank 
God, Dr. McShane knows enough to know that shots 
call for stretchers. " 

A feeble voice was heard from near by. It was Clin- 
ton's, as he lay by a tree, his head supported by his 
brother. 

"Did we lick 'em, Lieutenant?" 

"You bet we did! I counted three stone-dead. And 
just see our bo5's fetching in their wounded! One, two, 
three, four — right where we are." 

Company K halted behind the fence and watched the 
opposite woods while waiting for orders. The pork and 
crackers brought by Mark and Ed were sparingly dealt 
out and contentedly munched, the prisoners who were 
not too badly hurt getting their bite with the rest. Can- 
teens were generally empty before this, and certain men 
were now allowed to gather from their comrades as many 
as they could carry and go back to a little ditch they 
had crossed in their advance, fill them, and distribute 



102 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

them to their thirsty owners. Fargeon noticed Corporal 
Dugong very active and audible among the workers, so 
he must have been mistaken in the identity of the dead 
man. 

The captain mingled with the men and ate a bit of 
cracker with a slice of cold boiled salt pork (sweeter 
than fresh grass-butter) laid on it; took a pull at one of 
the canteens newly filled at the ditch (delicious nectar), 
and, looking round for fresh, new worlds to conquer, 
accepted the loan of Morphy's pipe, from which he took 
several cautious whiffs. 

"Mac, what day of the week is this?" 

"Let's see: we got our orders Wednesday, we sailed 
Thursday, we landed Friday, we marched Saturday — that's 
yesterday — to-day's Sunday, by my reckoning." 

Captain William Fargeon, Sundaj^-school superintend- 
ent and temperance missionary, smiled grimly, then 
laughed aloud. 

"What's the matter, captain?" 

"Oh — nothing much," he answered; then, to himself, 
he added: "A fight, a swear-word, a drink of liquor, 
and a pipe — all on Sabbath morning! " and laughed again. 



The men are resting gayly, at their ease, some in the 
shady corners of the worm fence, some under the trees 
hard by, among whose branches the cicadas are screaming 
their delight in the hot sunshine. It is scarcely more 
than twenty minutes since our boys leaped the fence to 
pursue the retreating foe, j^et to some men it is a life- 
time, to others the beginning of a long, slow, maimed 
existence. 

In front, the young corn spreads its deep green far and 
wide,' broken and disturbed by the deadly work that 
went on in and through and over it a little while ago. 



THE FLAG OF TRUCE. I03 

Somewhere in its expanse, at some unmarked spots, lie 
three prostrate human figures. Enemies? No; former 
enemies, now insensate clods, to be neither hated nor 
feared. 

The rest following a small affair, wherein we have had 
a success, or at any rate no serious loss or disaster, is a 
delightful interval to those alive and unhurt. One more 
yawning chasm past, one less deadly peril before us of 
those marked opposite our names in the illegible book 
of fate; a hard duty done this day, whether any one 
except us ever knows it or not; and perhaps a little 
dearly-loved honor and fame added to our few treasures. 
Somxething to talk of in camp; something to write of 
to the dear home-folks, now further away than ever. 
Something to remember to the day of death, be it near 
at hand or dim in the future. A great rebound of 
spirits from the terrible tension of the ordeal — a 
hilarity that seems natural even in caring for the suffer- 
ing wounded or the quiet dead. 

"Well, Clinton, old boy! Your turn to-day, mine 
next time. How do you feel?" 

"First-rate, Captain." 

"I guess Clint will come out all O K, " said Aleck, 
who now had his arm under his brother's head as it lay 
on the stretcher, and was wiping off the sweat-drops of 
pain and weakness as they gathered on his forehead. 

"All right? Of course he will! He'll be singing in 
the quartet again before we know it." 

"I wonder if those fellows have any brothers on the 
other side!" said Clinton, turning his head with diffi- 
culty to where the wounded prisoners sat or lay in a 
row. 

"Might be," said Fargeon, while the laugh died from 
his face. But his blood was flowing too free for long 



/ 



104 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

regrets. A smile chased away the pain and he added: 
"They had no business to be rebels — and then to come 
out and try to fight Company K! " 

"Bully for you! Bully for all!" quavered Clinton. 
"What became of my gun?" 

"Oh, little Mark got it," answered Aleck, "and * * 
he used it too! " 

Fargeon had taken off his kepi. 

"Why, Captain, did you get hit? Your forehead looks 
as if it had been grazed by a ball." 

"No, no! " answered Will hastily, while the abraded 
forehead flushed up to the roots of his hair. "Brushed 
against something in passing." 

The stretcher-bearers were now told off to help the 
hospital men, and our wounded carried to camp. 

"Set the stretchers down at the hospital tent, and get 
four more and hurry back for the wounded rebs. Don't 
wait for these to be unloaded," shouted Mac. 

"Four? Why, there are five to go," said Will. 

"Oh, there's one who won't need a stretcher." 

They went over to where a fine specimen of humanity 
was lying (and dying), a little apart from the rest. 
Young, strong, handsome, high-bred — curls, that might 
have been the pride of a doting mother, clustering 
round a brow that might have been the hope of an 
ambitious father. Eyes fit to shine as the heaven of 
love and trust to some happy bride, the light gone from 
them forever; the lids drawn back and the balls 
sunken so that it seemed as if their owner had been 
born blind. A bullet had torn clean through his lungs, 
and the breath made a dreadful noise escaping through 
the wound at every exhalation. 

Fargeon wiped away the bloody froth that oozed from 
the wounded man's lips and over his downy beard, and 



THE FLAG OF TRUCE. IO5 

tried to pour some drops of water into his mouth, but 
it ran out unswallowed. He asked the others the name 
of the dying man, and found it to be Huger. [Pro- 
nounced Hujee.] 

No more "joy of battle" for Captain Fargeon. He 
walked away along the line, trying to forget the dying 
boy, and listened to the usual free comments of the pri- 
vate soldier. 

"Now, why don't our boys back in camp move up and 
charge them woods? We've done our part, and now the 
big-bugs that sent us out ain't ready to follow up our 
victory !" 

"Oh, dry up, Eph ! What do you know about war? 
Ye don't know no more about war than a fish knows about 
water! War's jest pushin' men out to git killed and 
then pullin' 'em back to die of old age. Kind o' 'mark- 
time march;' keep a-steppin' an' never git ahead 
none. " 

In spite of the relaxation and repose, watchful eyes 
were always directed toward the front. 

"Hello! They're sending out. a flag of truce!" 

The cry came from several parts of the line at once; 
and Fargeon ran to McClintock for advice, as usual. 

"Sarg'nt Coggill and Chipstone, leave your guns an' go 
out — double-quick — halt them where you meet them, and 
find out what they want. Tell them if they come any 
nearer we'll fire on them, flag or no flag. One of you 
stay with 'em— Sarg'nt, you stay with 'em; keep your 
mouth shut and your eyes and ears open. Chipstone, 
you bring back the message." 

The emissaries started, and our boys began to perch 
themselves on a fence. 

"Down! Git down, all of you, you fools! Do you 
want to let them know how few there are of us? Let 



/ 



I06 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

'em think there's a battery and a whole brigade in line 
of battle right here, if they want to." 

Soon Chipstone came running back. 

"They want to see an officer who can treat for a truce 
to bury dead and care for the wounded." 

"What's the rank of the officer with the flag?" 

"I__don't know. He had no shoulder-straps." 

"No; they don't wear 'em. You go back and find out." 

Soon he made the journey out and back. 

"A captain and a lieutenant." 

"WelljCapt'nFargeon, you will probably meet the cap- 
tain, and take either me or Morphy with you." 

"Oh, come along, McClintock. We'll see what they 
want. " 

"Well, sir, will you instruct Lieut' nt Morphy to take 
charge of our men— to keep them hidden and watchful in 
front and on flanks?" 

Morphy got his orders, and the others started. 

"Mac, could it be that they are moving to cut us off?" 

"No, not while the flag of truce is out. They ain't In- 
jins. " 

As they walked on, he added: 

"Same time, this flag of truce is a mere pretense. 
They want to find out if there's a chance for a rush on 
us, to retrieve their little repulse of this morning. Now, 
suppose your two guns were there and only K company 
to support them, and they found it out by this smart 
trick, and had a regiment in the edge of those woods — " 

"Well, what then?" 

"Why, the confederacy would be two guns ahead to- 
night. Guns without infantry to back them are as help- 
less as baby-carriages." 

They approached the two officers and the sergeant 
bearing the flag — a handkerchief tied on a gun-rammer. 



THE FLAG OF TRUCE. I07 

The captain was a tall, pale, rather elderly gentleman, 
silent and rigidly grave. The lieutenant was the typical 
southern officer; thin and sallow, smooth-faced except a 
fringe of mustache over a sharp mouth, long black hair 
brushed behind his ears and falling to his collar; level 
brows and black eyes that shone with fierce, untamable 
light. 

The four officers touched their caps as they met. The 
confederate lieutenant spoke: 

"Gentlemen, I make you acquainted withCapt'nHuger, 
of the Lou'siana Fire-Eaters. I am Lieut. Judah, of the 
same reg'ment." 

As the junior officer had spoken, McCiintock replied, 
introducing Captain Fargeon and himself. Then the south- 
erner went on: 

"Gentlemen, as we were ovahmatched — I would say out 
numbahed — in our little affaiah of this morning, we 
thought best toretiah, and, in disobedience of the ordahs 
of Capt'n Huger and myself, some of ouah dead and 
wounded were left on the field." 

The northerners bowed. 

"Now, sail, Ma j ah Leroy commanding the fo'ce in your 
immejate front, sen's his compliments and requests the 
cou'tesy of a truce fo' two houahs to cayah fo' ou' 
wounded and bury ou' dead." 

Fargeon made an inclination to Mac to authorize him 
to repl}^ and he did so. 

"Lieutenant, we have already cared for your wounded; 
and as to your dead, we are willing to send them over to 
your line by details of our men; or, according to rule, 
to forward )^our request to our commanding officer." 

"Very well, sah. Do you mean that you will insist 
that yo' men shall be allowed to bring ou' dead quite 



Io8 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

to ou' own lines, sah? Or that we shall leave them un- 
buried, or come and take them by fo'ce, sah?" 

"As to coming to take them by force, you know,Lieu- 
tenant, you didn't need a flag of truce to authorize you 
to do that." 

"By God, sah, if I had my way we would have had no 
flag of truce, sah! We'd have had our battle-flag, sah, 
to recovah ou' dead, sah! " 

"We should have been glad to see you, Lieutenant. 
There's room behind our lines for the rest of your force." 

"By God, sah! — " 

But the silent gentleman at his side laid his hand on 
the youth's shoulder and quelled him by a look. Far- 
geon now interposed. 

"Pardon, gentlemen, I think we should feel authorized 
to have your dead brought to this place, and your men 
allowed unmolested to take them into your lines." 

The elder man, to whom Fargeon had addressed him- 
self, bowed a silent assent to this. 

Mac wrote a few lines in his book, and, tearing out the 
leaf, gave it to Chipstone to deliver to Lieut. Morphy. 
In a few minutes eight men were seen to leave the fence 
and begin searching about among the corn-hills. Before 
long three bodies clad in shabby gray, dirty and blood- 
stained, were being slowly dragged toward the little 
group, their helpless heels leveling the corn-plants as 
they passed, their hatless heads dropped back, their 
white mouths wide open, and their dead eyes staring hid- 
eously toward the pitiless sky. 

Captain Huger stood with his back to the work, but as 
each corpse was laid down he gave one quick, searching, 
agonized glance, and then turned instantly away. 

"That is all, gentlemen." 



THE FLAG OF TRUCE. IO9 

The old captain heaved a long, deep sigh, seemingly 
of relief and hope. 

"Are all the six others whom we miss, wounded and 
in your hands?" 

"We have six in our hands, wounded or not." 

"Are there any prisoners not wounded?" 

"One. I have not yet taken his name." 

"Can you describe him?" asked the lieutenant. But 
Captain Huger shook his head, intimating that he knew it 
was not the man they had in their minds. So the lieu- 
tenant changed the question. 

"Can we obtain him by parole, exchange, or otherwise? " 

"Personally we have nothing to say about parole or ex- 
change." 

"If we could lay our hands on him he would be shot at 
sundown. " 

"Then of course he can in no case be paroled or ex- 
changed." 

The Confederate lieutenant here whispered a few words 
to his senior, who replied v/ith a nod; then turned his 
back and stood like a statue. 

"There is one man in yo' hands, gentlemen, I wish 
informally to ask about, undah circumstances — " 

"Do you mean Private Huger?" 

"I do, sah." 

"He is wounded in our hands." 

"Severely?" 

"Mortally." 

A dreadful silence fell upon the group. No one knew 
how to break it. Fargeon, with a question in his look, 
pointed to the heroic figure beyond; and Judah answered 
with a nod that seemed to say, "Father and son." 

The grief-stricken father never raised his hand to his 
eyes; but his frame wavered a little, and from time to 



no THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

time he bowed his head and shook it slightly, when one 
or two scattered drops would shine for an instant in the 
sun as they fell to the ground. 

At last Mac spoke: 

"With Capt'n Fargeon's permission, I propose that if 
Private Huger shall have died before the flag is with 
drawn, we shall deliver his body as we have the others." 

"Verv good, sah. And if not, sah?" 

"Then I don't know what more we can say," said 
Mac; to which Fargeon added: 

"Except that we shall treat the rebel wounded as we 
do our own.'" 

Judah flared up again in an instant. 

'I'll thank you, Capt'n Fargeon, not to presume upon 
the protection affo'ded you by a flag of truce! I'll thank 
you, sah, to speak of Confederate soldiers befo' Confed- 
erate officahs with propah respect, sah! " 

"Lieutenant, it was quite accidental. I will repeat the 
remark in the form I should have given it at first: We 
shall treat wounded enemies as we would wounded 
friends." 

"Very well, sah. I am moah than satisfied. You 
speak of us as yo' enemies; I reg-yahd that as the most 
honorable name you could bestow, sah!" 

Fargeon answered with a good-humored smile. How 
far he was from looking at them as they seemed to look 
at us! 

Said Mac, listlessly plucking a corn-leaf and tearing 
it into long, thin, green ribbons: 

"I need not say that if Private Huger shall live long 
enough, we shall be glad to favor an exchange for one 
of our men, if you have one to offer." 

"A wounded man, sah?" 

"No; a well man." 



THE FLAG OF TRUCE. Ill 

"Well, sail, I assume to say that that would be an 
exchange giving you-uns an advantage which Capt'n 
Huger would decline to give you, sah." 

"Then, gentlemen, as we have no more immediate busi- 
ness, we propose to withdraw." 

"And how about ouah flag, sah?" 

"We shall consider it withdrawn within half an hour 
after Ave leave you, unless we in the meantime act under 
it as proposed." 

"Very well, sah! Capt'n Huger, the gentlemen are 
ready to retiah." 

The dignified father turned toward them, his face like 
that of a stone image. Fargeon impulsively extended his 
hand, but the other seemed not to see it. He touched 
liis hat, turned on his heel again, and stood motionless 
while our men retraced their steps, pushing down their 
sword-hilts so that the scabbards should not drag against 
the corn-blades. 

Our wounded had been sent in and the stretchers 
brought back for the rebels. All were loaded except 
Huger, who was still alive, though nearly done with his 
struggle. Mac went to the stretchers and made a slight 
examination of the sufferers. Then he said to one of them: 

"Get up and walk." 

"Oh, Lieutenant, my arm's shot to pieces; I can't 
travel." 

"You don't travel on your arm. Get out of that. I 
want it for Huger." 

"Oh, for Cap Huger' s son? Surely I' 11 get up. Could 
ye give me suth'n' to tie my arm so it won't hang down?" 

"Get up! I ain't here to wait on you," and he made 
as if he would tip the man off on the ground. 

"Oh, hold on!" cried Fargeon. "I can't stand that! 
Here, boy, let me tie my handkerchief in your button- 



112 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

hole; now let me slip your wrist through and clasp your 
hands together^so! " 

The fellow submitted in wondering silence, and then 
got up and sat down on a log, nursing his unlucky arm 
as if it were a pet dog. 

They lifted Huger on the stretcher. Mac looked at 
him critically. 

"Guess we'll call him dead, captain, and give his 
friends the job of burying him. What do you say?" 

"I say yes." 

"All right, then. Here, Mark, you and Chipstone and 
Bob and Coggill carry this body over to the men at the 
flag. Remember it's a dead man — never anything else — 
you remember?" And he winked at them individually 
and collectively. 

Fargeon saw them reach the place; saw them lift off 
the load and come back with the stretcher; saw that 
there were only two figures instead of three visible at 
and about the flag; and felt what he could not see — the 
desolate old man prone among the corn-hills, with his 
son in his arms. One more embrace, after so many, to 
the baby, boy, youth and man. 

"Now, Mac, what do we do with our dead man? Who 
was it?" 

"One of our men killed? First I've heard of it. Must 
be out on the flanks somewhere." 

"No; right near here. I passed him as I came up. 
Here — I can find the very log he lay behind, in half a 
minute. " 

"Well, let's be quick," said Mac. "I'm expecting 
some shells over. Of course you noticed that their 
white flag was tied onto a gun-rammer." 

Will was ashamed to confess that he had not noticed 
anything of the kind. 



CHAPTER IX. 

BURSTING SHELLS. 




ARGEON and McClintock found the 
gap in the fence, debated which way 
from that had been the point where the 
former had rejoined after his trip to 
headquarters, started back, and soon 
came upon the very log. Will ap- 
proached it with awe-struck seriousness, 
leady to turn over the corpse and look 
in the face of a dead friend. There 
was nothing there. 

"No body — nobody! " cried Fargeon, 
whereat Mac laughed. 

■'What does it mean?" asked Will, standing on the log 
and looking about to see if he could be mistaken. No! 
There in the distance stood the memorable white-oak! 
Then he got down where the man had lain, and found 
dim foot-tracks, and marks that might have been made 
by the toes of boots. Also a dint that might have come 
from the butt of a musket. Then he cried to Mac to 
come and look — at not less than a dozen cartridges, partly 
hidden under the log. 

"It means a skulker," said Mac. "A corporal, too, you 
say? If I can prove it on him, I go for tearing his 
stripes off in the face of the whole regiment; then hav- 
ing him bucked and gagged, put on police duty for a 
8 113 



114 '^^^ CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

month and docked of a year's pay! That's a thing 
that's go^ to be squelched !" 

"Why, Mac — is it common?" 

"Common? Don't ask me! Every battle is fringed 
with 'em. The fine fellows get killed and wounded and 
the skulkers live forever, and their widows draw pen- 
sions afterward." 

"I guess I can pick him out, Mac. I'll let you know if 
I succeed." 

He strolled off to the line and joined one group of 
gossipers after another, telling them a little of the scene 
at the flag of truce, concerning which they were ex- 
tremely curious. 

"Cale Dugong, where were you in the fight?" 

"I was right in over yonder, Cap, or a leetle more to 
the left. I was just telling the boys how I knocked over 
two of the Johnnies — I shouldn't wonder if one of the 
wounded men see me aim at him. Maybe not, though. 
But I know one of the killed did; and it was the last 
thing he ever did see, too." 

"Wnicb two of our men were you between?" 

"Oh, I started in between Eph ToUiver an' Tom I ooser, 
didn't I, boys?" 

"Yes; that's the way we stood coming up through the 
woods, an' after we got to the fence, before the rebs 
com-'' out." 

"Well, there's where it was, then. After the reserve 
jined, I dunno v^^ho I was with, I was a-firin' so fast. 
I bet there ain't a man in the company fired more car- 
tridges than I did! " He opened his cartridge-box, and, 
to be sure, it was half empty. 

"Maybe that's because you fired so often before you 
were told to fire! Step this way, Caleb: I've got toliave 
a talk with you." 



BURSTING SHELLS. II5 

Caleb obeyed, his face turning rapidly from "red as a 
beet to white as a sheet," the boys said, winking at each 
other as he disappeared in the wake of the captain. 

They walked to the log in grim silence. 

"Pick up those cartridges and put them back in your 
box." 

"Why, Cap — " 

"Silence, sir! Now throw some leaves over where your 
toes and the butt of your gun scratched the dirt. Hide 
your shame ! " 

Caleb obeyed. 

"What 5'e goin' t' do to me, Cap? I was sick — 
honest, I was." And he proceeded to give some plausi- 
ble functional reason for his defection. 

When he had done, Fargeon pointed back to his place 
in the ranks, saying sternly: 

"Private Dugong, go back to your duty." 

"Ain't I a corp'ral no more. Cap?" 

"No. We don't want skulking corporals. If you 
resign and rip off your stripes, all right; if you don't, 
it will be done for you. If you are brought before a 
court-martial, you may be shot for leaving the ranks 
under fire. Your life depends on your future conduct." 

He left Caleb sitting on the log, helpless with fright. 
The culprit soon braced up, however, and blustered back 
into his place. 

"Well, I won't stand it! I'll go back to the ranks! 
Any private could make a mistake an' fire without orders, 
an' nobody' d say a word to him; but let a corp'ral do 
it wunst and he gits abused like a dog! Yes, sir! 
You needn't call me Corp'ral Cale no more! " And they 
did not. 

Fargeon told Mac what he'd done, and the latter re- 
marked: 



Il6 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

"Well, that's good in one way, anyhow, even if it's 
bad in another. It gives us another chance to promote 
a man. Clinton Thrush is a sergeant; he'll be off for a 
long time, if he ever comes back. We can promote a 
corporal to his place and raise two men from the ranks." 

"fiard on Clinton." 

"No! He ought to be a lieutenant by that time. 
Lots of vacancies comJng; not to speak of new regi- 
ments." 

"I'd like to see little Mark a corporal, for particular 
reasons." 

"Mark' 11 be one, of course, though we'll lose him as 
Our orderly. Ought to have been one from the start, 
knowing as much as he does. How would Clinton's 
brother Alec do for a sergeant, and Chipstone for a cor- 
poral?" 

"Couldn't be better." 

Orders now came from headquarters to return to camp 
at once. [The two guns had been overtaken and turned 
backward.] Word was passed along the line to come to 
"attention" and "prepare to retire as skirmishers; " but 
before the order could be obeyed a flash in the opposite 
woods sent across the corn-field a slight gleam visible in 
spite of the sunshine. Soon followed the roar of a dis- 
tant field-piece, and, almost at the same instant with the 
sound, the shriek of a near shell passing over their heads; 
then among the trees behind them there was another great 
bang as the shell burst; then a humming, as of a hun- 
dred gigantic bees, from the fragments of the shell as 
they flew through the air, hunting the neighborhood for 
victims. 

The men in the immediate vicinity dropped flat down 
as if they had been struck by lightning. It seemed im- 
possible for human nature to stand up before and be- 



BURSTING SHELLS. II7 

neath the yelling, flying beast. Fargeon dropped among 
the rest. He felt as if he could not hug mother earth 
closely enough — he would have liked to dig a hole, with 
his nails, to hide in. Almost before the echoes of the 
first shot died away another rang out, with the same 
series of sounds. The shriek of a shell is more appall- 
ing than the scream of an angry horse. 

Will knew that something must be done, but what? He 
wished he could ask Mac. As he framed the wish he 
heard Mac's drawl above him; raised his head, and there 
was the bold fellow erect and cool, standing on the top 
rail of the fence, steadying himself with his left hand 
on a fence stake, while he peered under his right at the 
opposite woods. 

"Two pieces — that's all. I wish I knew how much 
infantry they've got! Can't have been much while we 
were fighting, or they'd have come out and supported 
their skirmishers. No matter, though. We couldn't 
venture to go for the guns with only one company. It 
would take all our men to drag the pieces — allowing for 
losses before we got hold of 'em. If I had a regiment 
I'd try it; I would! That is, of course, with your con- 
sent, Captain." 

Will got up and began to brush the dust off his clothes, 
but by this time the first gun was reloaded, and again 
he saw the flash and heard the shriek, the double ex- 
plosion and the humming — heard them from the ground 
as before; Mac still perched high above him. The third 
missile struck in the corn-field, the fertile soil being too 
mellow for a ricochet. 

"They are getting the range," coolly observed Mac. 
"Let's get back, Captain, whenever you are ready." 

"The sooner the better," said Fargeon, now shamed 



Il8 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

out of his nervousness. "If you'll go to the right I'll 
go to the left." 

"Very well — oh, I thought you said I was to go to the 
right." 

"Do; and I will go to the left." 

"Yes, Captain ; but you are going to the right now." 

"Surely, surely! There; I'll go to the right and you 
the left. I forgot that I should always talk of right or 
left as if we were facing the enemy." 

The long, straggling, scattered line now worked slowly 
toward camp, the halting portion of the men always 
selecting trees, and peering out from behind them as 
the moving men retired past. The shells still rang 
merrily, and the tree-tops suffered some damage, but no- 
bodv was hurt. Will asked Mac if it wasn't wonderful. 

"Naw! " answered Mac contemptuously, true infantry- 
man that he was. "Artillery scares, but doesn't kill. 
It's only the musket that means business." And he 
tramped back and forth along the line, talking incessantly, 
as was evidently his habit in action. 

As the sense of danger again Avore off, Will's spirits 
took another rebound, and he moved and talked as Mac 
did, just as if there were no peril in shells. Then he 
heard a man near him cry out "Ouch! " and saw him drop 
his gun and begin squeezing the right hand under his 
left arm as a boy might who had pounded his thumb 
with a hammer. One of the buzzing iron bees had evi- 
dently stung. Will picked up the gun, and caught a 
glimpse of the hurt hand as the man hurriedly and anx- 
iously inspected it. It was a mere glimpse, but it showed 
a broken bone, and bloody skin and flesh both fat and 
lean. Will told the sufferer to hurry on to camp; and 
himself resumed his tramping back and forth, carrying 
the gun and feeling a little nausea. 



BURSTING SHELLS. II9 

A new depression seized him; his mind's eye saw only 
the horrors of the day, and his mind's ears heard only 
the bubbling escape of air from Private Huger's breast. 
His fancy pictured this last wounded man going through 
life with a maimed, misshapen, hideous, useless rip'ht 
hand; a burden to himself and the world. The cannon 
firing behind them suddenly stopped. 

"Now, look out for them, boys! " shouted Mac. "Every 
man take a tree when he halts, and give 'em 'Hail 
Columbia' if they're tryin' for a rush." 

Will repeated the order, and as Mac didn't take a tree 
he did not either, but moved back and forth as before. 

"Cap Fargeon don't take no tree," he heard one halted 
man call to his neighbor. 

"Cap hain't got no use for no tree," called back the 
one addressed. 

Once more a happy glow filled his heart, and he felt a 
lump rise in his throat and dew start to his eyes. He 
loved the men who had praised him. He loved all the 
men in his company. Then he thought of their being 
food for powder; the mere sport of fate. "The best fel- 
lows get killed; while the skulkers live forever, and their 
widows draw pensions afterward," Mac had said. Oh, 
how can a just God permit such things? So did pleas- 
ure and pain follow each other across his abnormally ex- 
cited soul. 

No enemy appeared, and soon the movement became a 
mere scattered tramp to the rear. Fargeon approached 
McClintock and they walked along together. 

"They got their full ration in the corn-field," said Mac. 

"Yes — poor devils! " 

"If we hadn't met their flag of truce where we did, 
they would have found out how weak we are, and tried 
to get back at us, for keeps." 



I20 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

They walked on in silence, Will thinking of Private 
Huger and his father. 

"Oh, Mac! can't this business be stopped?" 

"It ought to be. It's a cursed shame." 

"Think of that poor old Capt'n Huger !" 

"Ya-as. The old cuss ought to know better. But, 
then, both sides do it when they get a chance." 

"Do what, do you mean?" 

"Why, use the flag of truce to snoop information." 

"Oh! that was not what I had in mind." 

"What then?" 

"Oh, the whole beastly job -the slaughter, the wounds, 
the maimings, the bereavements." 

"Oh, I see! Well, how can we help them?" 

"Just look at it! Take that young Huger, cutoff in his 
prime and promise, shot through the lungs in a corn-field 
by a man that had nothing against him — Chipstone, as 
good a fellow as ever lived, without a hard feeling in his 
heart toward any man on earth; I can see that Chip 
feels it. He looks like a ghost, and hasn't opened his 
lips since we picked up the poor boy." 

"Oh, Chip' 11 get over it." 

"I hope he will; or I'm afraid he will; I don't know 
which." 

"Let him go and take a good look at Clint Thrush's 
leg. That'll help him." 

"Oh, my God! It makes me sick." Will threw his 
disengaged hand up toward the unanswSring sky. 

"Well, how are we going to carry on war if you look 
at all those things?" 

"It ought never to be carried on at all! " 

"Oh, of course! Bad the best way you can fix it. But 
that's none of my business. Our job is to make v/ar; 
somebody else's job is to make peace." 



BURSTING SHELLS. 121 

"I wonder there aren't lots of our fellows poking over 
to see what the firing is all about." 

"Like as not they never heard a thing — except these 
last cannon-shots." 

"What? That fusilade not heard in camp?" 

"No. You see the wind is in our faces as we go back. 
And then the air is dry and thin; that makes a wonder- 
ful difference. If it had been rainy they might have 
heard the muskets in spite of the woods." 

"Well, that young aide-de-camp must have told we 
were engaged." 

"Yes, he told it at headquarters of course ; and then 
probably the stretchers were started and the brigade was 
called out under arms on the color line. No chance for 
anybody to wander in the woods after that. Still, as 
you say, there ought to have been messengers constantly 
goirig and coming — would have been if headquarters 
amounted to shucks." 

"To be sure, he brought us orders to retire." 

"Ya-as, but how did they know we could retire in 
proper order, bringing dead and wounded. Suppose we'd 
met a regiment, instead of a company, and they'd out- 
flanked us and wrapped us all up!" 

"The prisoners we sent in told the story." 

"Thanks to our good luck and good fighting, not to 
their good management." 

So they tramped along through the scattered under- 
brush, spotted with sunshine and shadow. 

Meanwhile an unlooked-for glory and pleasure was in 
store for them. 



CHAPTER X. 

HONOR AND OBLIVION. 

OMPANY— HALT! By the right flank, 
close intervals— MARCH! " 

The skirmishers were coming in sight 
of camp. They faced into line (front- 
ing toward the enemy, of course), and 
re-formed, re-counted and re-dressed 
the ranks disordered by their losses. 
The officers drew swords. "By fours, 
right— FACE ' Right shoulder-shift— 
ARMS! Forward by file right — 
MARCH! Left— left— left— left." 

As they neared the camp the}' saw 
that the three regiments of the brigade 
were under arms on the color line, stand- 
ing at "rest." [The}^ had been called 
out, as Mac had guessed they would be, 
at the sound of the cannon.] 
A wild "Heigh! " started spontaneously from the long 
brigade line when the head of Company K came in sight. 
Again and again it rose, springing up in one part of the 
line after another, and always spreading along the 
ranks from end to end, while the men swung their caps 
or raised them high in air on the points of their bayo- 
nets. 

Somewhere in K's rank was heard a strong voice (alas! 

122 




HONOR AND OBLIVION. 1 23 

not Clinton Thrush's!) starting the company song, to 
which all burst into chorus at the proper time: 

"Company K has shown the way. 

BULLY FOR YOU ! BULLY FOR ALL ! 
Your turn's a coming some other day. 
BULLY FOR YOU ! BULLY FOR ALL !" 

The other companies of the Sixth took up the song, 
and then the rest of the brigade caught on in a heart}' 
though desultory and irregular fashion. They paid small 
attention to words. "Company K! Company K!" was 
good enough for the song, and "Bully for you! Bully for 
all!" was always ready when anybody thought it was 
time for the chorus. 

Fargeon was going to lead his men straight in, past 
the right flank of the brigade, but as he approached he 
saw the commanding officer (lieutenant-colonel) of the 
nearest regiment motioning him down toward the left 
flank. Not knowing just what he would be at, Will 
changed direction to the right; and soon found that K 
was to be highly honored. 

The lieutenant-colonel brought the regiment to "atten- 
tion," with arms at shoulder. Then, to the surprise and 
delight of the home-coming skirmishers, he cried: 

"PRESENT— ARMS!" 

Fargeon turned to the happy, excited faces of Company 
K, and called "SHOULDER— ARMS!" [The marching 
salute was with arms at "shoulder."] Tears of gratified 
pride rose to his eyes — why, he did not know. The 
springs of smiles and tears lie close together. 

The other regiments in turn were called to "attention," 
and the salute repeated; and the Sixth, when its turn 
came, gave three regular cheers and a "tiger" to its dis- 
tinguished brothers. 

At last K reached its tent-street. The coats were old; 



124 ^^^ CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

the caps, once so jaunty, were in all possible shapes of 
crushed, misshapen disfigurement — the whole uniform was 
shabby, with various shades of faded blue and various 
signs of sun and rain, wear and tear; but yet its wearers 
were clothed with honor and distinction. Company K 
had fought, suffered, triumphed, and had brought in 
prisoners and trophies. 

"Company— HALT! Break ranks— MARCH! " And 
with a last "Heigh!" and the usual slapping of musket- 
stocks, the boys darted into their tents, laid aside their 
arms and accoutrements, and flung themselves flat on 
their backs for welcome, grateful rest. They had not 
known till now how tired they were. The absence of 
their comrades underarms on the color line, gave them an 
interval of delicious solitude; utter silence reigned; their 
eyes closed as if by magic, and some were asleep almost 
on the instant. 

But George Chipstone lay staring at the canvas above 
him as if he could never sleep again. 

Fargeon had noticed that Colonel Puller was not with 
the regiment under arms. In fact, all the regiments were 
in charge of lieutenant-colonels. He went at once to the 
colonel's tent to report, but learned from an orderly that his 
commander, with the other colonels, was at brigade head- 
quarters, where some festivity was in progress on the 
occasion of a sword presentation to the valiant Y. R. 
Puller, of the Sixth Illinois. A committee from his home 
district had arrived, which would have taken him greatly 
by surprise if he had not known all about it beforehand, 
and now he was entertaining the delegation at headquar- 
ters, where speeches were being made, toasts drunk, and 
a "good time" was enjoyed at a spread given by Colonel 
Puller to the general, his staff, the visitors, and other 
invited guests. 



HONOR AND OBLIVION. 125 

Will made his way to brigade headquarters — a neigh- 
boring farm-house — and heard, from the open windows, 
sounds of merriment that jarred on his ears; that festive 
volubility which is so repulsive to a sad and sober list- 
ener. He sent in his name to Colonel Puller; no answer 
came out for a long time, because the messenger dared not 
interrupt the speaking; and when word did come it was: 

"Colonel Puller sends his compliments to Capt. Far- 
geon, and requests him to call at his quarters in an hour." 

He went back to his own tent sick at heart, the reac- 
tion from excitement and tension of nerves taking full 
possession of soul and body. He threw himself prone 
along his rude couch and pressed his eyeballs hard with 
his fingers. "Who am I? Am I Will Fargeon, or am I 
a Sabbath-breaking, tobacco-smoking, sv/earing, drinking, 
murdering ruffian? Who was it storming up and down that 
man's corn-field, glad to see my friends killing other peo- 
ple's friends? Glad Chipstone's bullet plowed through the 
lung of that splendid old man's splendid son! Glad my 
men fired low and sure while theirs fired high and wild! 
Glad about those corpses with flies sucking the unshed 
tears from their eye sockets ! 

"That was just about church-time; when Sally was 
sitting at the sv/eet-toned organ, playing soft and low; 
while the sun was throwing through the stained glass 
that special ray that always makes her hair look like an 
aureole. I can hear her voice chanting, 'And on earth 
peace, good will to men;' while I was screaming through 
the din, 'Fire low, men! Aim every time!' 

"Is it all a horrid nightmare? No — there is the wall 
of the tent; I can feel the roughness of it with my 
fingers. What a looking hand! How horribly shabby I 
am all over! On earth fire low — peace — aim your piece 
every time. That's a pun, isn't it?" And he fell asleep. 



126 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

"Hello! " called a vinous voice in spirituous accents. 
"Hello! Capt'n Fargeon, I believe." 

"Ye-es, sir; I believe so too." 

"Well, Captain, I represent the 'Fulcrum,* as you may 
have heard. I just asked Colonel Puller zvho had the honor 
of commanding our force in the little ruction this morn- 
ing, and he named you." [Silence.] "Now, Cap, I 
being who I am, and you being who you are, you may 
readily fancy my object in disturbing your rosy slumbers." 

"And what can I do for you, Mr. ?" 

"Call me whatever you please, Cap — it's all one — 
when you talk to me you talk to the 'Fulcrum.' That is, 
I presume, a sufficient introduction. You had but one 
company, I understand; and I suppose the force you met 
outnumbered yours two to one, eh? Or was it ten to one 
this time?" 

"Mr. — Mr. — Fulcrum, I may be wrong, but as I under- 
stand my duty, it is to make my report in the first in- 
stance to my immediate superior, Colonel Puller." 

"Oho! Red tape, eh? First lesson in tactics for new 
beginners is red tape!" [Silence.] "Now, once more, 
Captain, and for the last time, I ask if you will furnish 
the public through our columns the details of your 
alleged skirmish of this morning." 

Will slowly rose, slowly pulled aside the tent-flap, 
pointed in silence toward the outside, and waited till the 
upstart, with a contemptuous snort, departed. 

All was dark, dismal, disgusting, degraded — well-nigh 
intolerable. Will said to himself: 

"Lucky there's no whisky at hand — I should be 
almost tempted to take some to put me back into that 
contemptible state of ignoble self-complacency." 

Suddenly he bethought himself of his pipe. He found 
it and filled it; then, looking around for a paper to light 



HONOR AND OBLIVION. 127 

at the camp-fire, his eye fell upon he letter to be deliv- 
ered "if I fall," and he hastened to crumple and burn it, 
as if it had been something to be ashamed of. 

After Fargeon had made his report to Col. Puller, the 
latter joyfully welcomed the young dispenser of fame, 
and submitted to the inevitable interview with scarcely 
disguised gratification, flattering frankness, and unlimited 
whisky and cigars. 

Fargeon was very glad of this, for he would have been 
sorry to be the means of depriving his brave fellows of 
the solace that flows from public mention of public serv- 
ice. As to his personal share in the skirmish, he held 
it in very humble esteem, and would try not to grieve 
if the offense he had given should result in his being 
deprived of anything be3'ond a bare mention of his name 
as commanding the fighting force. He knew that some 
bright eyes would glisten, and some friendl}' faces would 
smile with approval, on merely knowing that he was on 
hand and had his share in the manly fray. 

Then he let his fancy roam a little along the road to 
fame — so easy for the eyes of the soldier, and so hard 
for his feet — and read in advance the letters and news- 
papers that were to reach him through the mails of the 
next month or two if he should live so long. Sara Pen- 
rose? Surely; sweetest and best of all. Her father? 
Yes; urging that to God should be given the glory. 
Families of his soldiers? Yes, indeed! Business friends? 
Probably some; perhaps even one from Mayer Moss- 
Rosen, his close competitor in the bitter rivalry of trade. 
How gratifying and consoling that would be ! 

To return to our resting boys: The men of the 
brigade under arms were relieved from their tiresome 
confinement on the color- line; not as soon as they might 
have been, but as soon as the attention of the brigadier- 



128 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

general could be drawn from Puller's hospitable board 
and turned in their direction. Then the rest of the 
Sixth swarmed over Company K's quarters and put a 
speedy end to all repose. 

Over and over did the men have to tell of their "bap- 
tism of fire." Cale Dugong was perhaps the most graphic 
and soul-satisfying narrator; George Chipstone the least, 
for he lay in his tent and scarcely opened his lips. 

"Killed a fine young chap," said the others in a whis- 
per, to account for his "horrors." 

"Well, what of it? That's what we come out for," 
said Dugong. "I expect I killed two. Seen 'em drop, 
anyhow, an' I'm glad of it! " 

When Mark brought up the officers' supper he men- 
tioned Chip's predicament to Captain Fargeon, and the 
captain thought he ought to do something for the good 
fellow. He had Mark send him up. 

"Chipstone, you and Clinton are great friends, aren't 
you?" 

"Yes, Captain," answered the other in a hollow voice. 

"Let's go over to the hospital, and cheer him up a 
little. You get his things together and bring them with 
you. I'll pass you along." 

As they walked Will said: "A Chicago newspaper- 
man is in camp. I suppose our friends at home will get 
news by day after to-morrow of the good job we did to- 
day." 

No answer. 

"Those rebels seem to think they are going to destroy 
the great United States of America! We have got to 
teach them that it can't be done, while any of us are 
living. You and I may fall; some other good men will 
step into our places. The southerners will find they've 
'bit off more than they can chaw,' as the country folks 



HONOR AND OBLIVION. 1 29 

say. They began it, but we^ II stay and finish it. Don't 
you say so?" 

"Oh, I suppose it's got to be done by somebody." 

"Of course it has ! And the bitterer the lessons we 
give them, the sooner they'll learn the great truth. Did 
you notice how savage that rebel lieutenant v;^as?" 

"Wasn't he! " 

"Slave-holding seems to have made those men crazy 
with pride and foolishness. Now, I haven't got any- 
thing against that fellow, but I can see that nothing but 
blood-letting will give him common sense." 

"It's no use to go easy on 'em." 

"No. Any kind of half-way fighting would be sheer 
cruelty. It would be like the fellow who was too soft- 
hearted to cut his dog's tail off all at once, so he cut 
it off an inch at a time." 

Chipstone gave a half laugh at this illustration, and 
they reached the hospital— a neighboring barn pressed 
into the service. Long rows of cots covered the floor in 
every direction. They were chiefly occupied with sick 
men, as the visitors observed as they passed and asked 
the way to the corner devoted to the wounded. 

The great doors at each side of the barn were wide open, 
the breeze swept through, and the low-descending sun 
shone kindly in with level rays. Attendants moved about 
here and there, carrying to the disabled soldiers such 
rude comforts as a field hospital affords. Pale faces 
looked at the visitors, and two or three voices called to 
them: 

"Cap, got any newspapers?" 

Will was sorry he had no reading matter to relieve 
their tedium, and made a mental note of what should 
be his first care on the morrow. 

They made straight for the cots devoted to their own 
9 



130 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

companions, and the eyes of the Company K boys lighted 
up at their approach, and even the wounded confederates 
seemed to smile at their late antagonists. Familiar 
voices greeted them: "Hello, Captain! Hello, Chip- 
stone! " 

Both gave a hearty hand-clasp to each prostrate comrade. 
Clinton Thrush was the most seriously wounded, and an- 
other-7-the man who had his hand hurt — sat by his side 
waving a leafy branch to keep the flies off his exposed 
and bandaged leg. Clint knew them, but fever had come 
on, and he talked incessantly and incoherently, in a voice 
of weakness and excitement. 

"Bully for you! Bully for all! Company K in the 
corn-field. Says Mac, 'Forward, boys!' and I heard him 
say 'Forward boys!' and I did forward boys! Cap, I'll 
leave it to you if I didn't forward boys when he sung 
out 'Forward boj's!' First thing I knew I didn't know 
anything! Give a man all the appellations in the world 
and take away his consignments, and what' 11 he offer at 
next? But then! Aleck is my brother. That's nothing 
against him. Mac had no call to be hard on Aleck for 
being my brother. Oh, Captain — you'll stand by Aleck, 
if he is my brother, won't you? Don't let Mac hurt 
him for being my brother. Him an' I are all the boys 
mother's got — except the girls. Oh, mother! Oh, 
mother!" And he began to cry in a foolish fashion. 

To divert his thoughts, and if possible calm his shat- 
tered nerves. Will began in a gentle voice: 
" Our God he saw us from on high." 

And almost on the instant the poor fellow took up the 
melody, and in a voice like his own clear tenor, only 
sublimated, as if made of the breath of Heaven itself, 
he sang and sang until every other sound was hushed 
into silence; and still the sweet, touching strain soared 



132 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

aloft and floated out into the fading, dying day. Never 
afterward, never as long as he lives, can Will sing that 
strain; nor can he even hear it sung without a choking 
in his throat and a rush of tears to his eyes. 

An attendant brought the sufferer a soothing drink, and 
he became calm and quiet. Will let go his hand and 
turned to talk with the surgeon, who was attending the 
confederate wounded. 

"Captain," said the doctor, "I'm glad to see you. The 
boys are all doing well except Clinton. We are going 
to try to save his life and maybe his leg, but I don't 
know about it. If he were at home, in his natural cli- 
mate and surroundings, he would be all right. But here 
— blood thinned by hot weather, hard work, and poor 
food — " 

"Why not send him home at once, doctor?" 

"Oh, of course we can't send every wounded man 
h?)me. Ambulances can't be spared, nor attendants pro- 
vided for individiial enlisted men, sick or wounded. 
They have to be treated together." 

"Great heavens! Must the brave boys stay here and 
die when they might go home and live?" 

"Well, how would you fix it?" 

"Oh, I don't know! Any way to save lives and limbs. 
The whole S-tate of Illinois ought to come down for them 
if necessary! " 

"The state won't do it, and can't. If she'll send us 
well men to take their places when we lose them, that's 
all we can ask." 

"When will you decide about Clinton?" 

"In the moring we shall know. We won't amputate 
if we can save' the leg, and we won't amputate if it 
isn't going to be any use." 

"How — any use?" 



HONOR AND OBLIVION. I33 

"Well, if he can't live anyhow. In Mexico we didn't 
have much luck with large stumps. So much against 
the patient; so many died of trouble with the stump — 
they call it blood-poisoning nowadays — that we got to 
feel as if we might as well let them die without the knife 
as after it." 

"Clinton's brother Aleck ought to be with him." 

"Well, why not have him detailed as hospital nurse?" 

"The very thing! I'll attend to it to-night." 

The doctor smiled enigmatically, but did not say any- 
thing more. Fargeon spent the next hour passing from 
cot to cot; chatting with the men, making memoranda 
of their little needs and wishes, comforting and encour- 
aging them in every way; his own spirit growing calmer 
and happier in this congenial task. It was the pleasantest 
hour of his day, this stormy Sunday. 

"Here's where I belong," said he to himself. "Saving 
life, instead of destroying it; giving comfort and consola- 
tion; making peace, instead of war. Blessed are the 
peacemakers. Oh, how I wish I had such a job as this 
instead of that other — that infernal corn-field!" 

As they walked back, Chip said: "What did the doc- 
tor say about Clint?" 

"Very doubtful." 

"Which, leg or life?" 

"Both. If the fever goes off, the leg must probably 
come off; and if they amputate the leg, he' 11 have a poor 
chance to get over it." 

"Great God! Is that so?" 

"Yes. Likely that bullet has silenced Clinton Thrush's 
singing for good." 

"Curse the bullet — and the man that fired it! " 

"And those who sent him to fire it," added Fargeon. 

As they walked on in silence he said to himself: 



134 



THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 



"I guess Chip is all right again." 

When he spoke to Mac about sending Aleck to serve in 
the hospital, the lieutenant gave a snort of dissatisfac- 
tion. 

"Why, Aleck Thrush is one of the best men in the 
company! If they call on us for a hospital detail we can 
pick out men who will be no loss; but Aleck Thrush — ! 
The hospital's the place for the trash that haven't got 
snap enough to fight — the grannies in trousers — but Aleck, 
he's a man!" 

"All the same, Company K won't keep him away from 
his brother while I have anything to say about it." 
("But I guess I won't go into the hospital service myself 
just at present.") 

Next morning was rainy, but the requisition in 
Company K for an enlisted man to serve as hospital attend- 
ant came promptly, and Aleck was sent. He carried 
with him every old newspaper there was in the whole 
brigade. The poor fellow's trembling delight was a 
sight to see. He sang for joy and set off for Clinton's 
bedside running like a deer. 

"See him scoot! Aleck always was the beater to run; 
he beat us all in a foot-race like we was standing still; 
but I'll bet this time he's a-beatin' himself!" 

Speed uselessly made. Aleck might as well have run in 
the opposite direction. Before he reached the barn-hospi- 
tal he met four men carrying a stretcher, using their dis- 
engaged hands in restraining the weak, frantic struggles 
of Company K's first martyr — the brave fellow, the good 
man, the sweet singer, De Witt Clinton Thrush. His 
ravings had become a terror and a danger to the other 
sick and wounded, and he was being carried away out of 
their hearing. 

"Christ! Is that my brother? Here, Clint! Old 



HONOR AND OBLIVION. I35 

boy, don't ye know Aleck? There, there, there, there!" 
The soothing tones reached the sufferer's ears and heart, 
and he threw his arms around Aleck's neck and tried to 
climb off the stretcher by their help, while the wounded 
leg bled afresh. 

Expelled from the hospital, surrounded by sigh- 
ing woods through which the rain dropped drearily, no 
shelter in the world open to him to die in, home and 
mother and sisters five hundred miles away! 

Late the next afternoon Aleck crept back to camp with 
a piece of board he had somewhere found; and all night 
he hacked and carved at it until he had made a deep- 
cut and legible inscription to distinguish his brother's 
lonely grave. Our forces did not hold this position; and 
after we retired it is probable that some enemy found 
the spot and destroyed the simple record, or perhaps 
the wood-fires burned it, or hogs rooted it up. But 
what difference did that make? Nobody ever went back 
to look for it. 



A mail from home! Oh, joy! Oh, love! Oh, curi- 
osity! Oh, wild excitement! In every place that offers 
anything like privacy in the rude publicity of camp-life 
eager faces bend over letters. Lavish dimes (from the 
private soldier's scanty purse) are spent for every news- 
paper that has reached the sutler's tent for sale. 

"Dear, dear, dear soldier — otherwise known as William 
Fargeon, captain of Company K. * * * To tell you 
what happens (of interest) in Chicago while you all are 
away making the only news we care about, wouldn't take 
a page. To tell you all that doesn't happen would take 
a quire, a ream, a prairie of foolscap. * * * 

"Dear old Colin Thorburn comes often. I think he 
feels as if he were responsible for your leaving us, and 



136 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

calls as a kind of expiatory duty. Last night he sang 

* 'There is nae luck aboot the hoose, 
There is nae luck at a', 
There is nae luck aboot the hoose 
Syne our gude mon's awa," 

in a cracked old voice, so gentle and sympathethic that 
it wrung tears from the eyes of a poor goose who is too, 
too fond of you. 

"I have come to the conclusion that woman is an ab- 
surdly incomplete being. I think that if Eve had been 
made before Adam she would have spent all her time 
moping about the garden, crying, 'Wh}' — is this all? 
Nothing but sun, moon and stars, sky and earth, ani- 
mals, flowers, fruits, and 77ieP (She wouldn't know gram- 
mar yet, poor thing!) 'I don't think much of such a 
show as this, and I want my money back.' * * * 

"Oh! Merciful Heaven! Here comes the Fulcrum say- 
ing that the Sixth has had a fight and that some men were 
wounded! Oh, I hope you were not in it! I am sure 
you were not hurt or they would have said so. They only 
mention Col. Puller, and say that he was not hurt. How 
my heart beats! I hope you were not in the fight at 
all — I don't know why — it is a useless thing to wish or to 
hope. It is what you went for! 

"How unhappy I am! I am leaning back so that my 
tears shall not fall on the paper. There — I have leaned 
forward so that some should fall on it. Do you see those 
two crinkly spots? Those are tears, dear, shed for you. 
Now I must stop before I write down past them. 
"Your sorrowing, loving, 

"Sally." 

As soon as Fargeon could look at Sally's letter with 
any eyes but those of tenderness and happiness, he began 
to wonder at the fact that there should be any doubt as 



HONOR AND OBLIVION. 



137 



to whether he had been wounded, or had even been pres- 
ent at the skirmish. He secured a copy of the paper 
which had sent down the correspondent whom he had met. 
He got it, he read the narrative it contained — read it 
with amazement. 




"did we lick 'em, captain?" 

PAGE lOI. 



CHAPTER XI. 



CHICAGO AGAIN. 




T the time of the war, Chicago was 
already great — even down to her 
daily press. It was the Fulcrum 
which had sent forth the reporter 
whom Fargeon had met and had 
.„. offended; and he pounced upon the 
r]^ Fulcrum with all the eagerness 
of a young citizen-soldier look- 
ing for the home-picture of his 
maiden fight. 

First there was a column and 
more of the 'sword-presentation 
ceremonies," including a full report of the "impromptu 
remarks of our correspondent." Then followed a short 
statement of the "affair." This is the substance of the 
tale: 




Col. Y. R. Puller, of the Sixth, had been surprised by 
a demand for a detail of skirmishers "to find the enemy," 
on the very morning after his arrival. But when did 
that brave patriot ever hesitate at the call of duty? He 
instantly deployed a company for the service, perilous 
and bloody though it promised to be, and as the result 
showed it was destined to be in fact. And right well 
was that service performed! The brave colonel "found 

138 



CHICAGO AGAIN. 139 

the enem)^, " as he had been ordered to do — found them 
in force, not only infantry, but artillery! Yet he man- 
aged by his admirable arrangements and gallant fighting, 
to inflict loss far in excess of what he sustained. Four 
rebels were left dead on the field; five prisoners, most 
of them wounded, fell into our hands. Including the 
dead and wounded carried off by the retreating foe, their 
loss could not have been less than forty or fifty, while 
our entire loss was only five wounded. Fortunately Col. 
Puller was not himself among the wounded, for the 
army and the country could ill spare ofiEicers of his cali- 
ber. Whenever Col. Y. R. Puller leaves the field it 
should be at the call of his fellow-citizens of the nmth 
district, who think that he can do more service to the 
great cause in Congress, battling the fire in the rear, 
fighting the insidious enemy at home, than at the front, 
facing the more honorable and less dangerous foes in the 
field. 

That was all. The gentlemanly dispenser of fame and 
maker of history had avenged his affront by omitting all 
mention of the real fighters, wounded and unwounded, in 
his words sent home for the eager perusal of their fami- 
lies, friends, and neighbors. He had managed to wound 
the unwounded, and to withhold balm from the hurts of 
the disabled. 



That particular movement southward, wherein Com- 
pany K took its baptism of fire, turned out to be "one of 
our failures," The brigade was ordered back to Cairo, 
and back it journeyed, leaving to our enemies our foot- 
prints and the graves of cur dead. 

Ill the twenty-mile march it made to reach the steam- 
boats, Company K was again honored with the post of 
danger and distinction, this time the rear guard. Con- 



140 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

federate cavalry followed us sharply, and for many hours 
our boys kept up a running fight; suffering some loss, 
but inflicting more on the brave southern horsemen, 
many of whom were seen to fall, and some of whom, 
dashing recklessly through our line, were "gobbled up," 
horses and all; the men to be marched in as prisoners 
and the horses to be used to carry our wounded. The 
temptation to describe this day's fighting must be 
resisted; because, in cold blood and black and white, it 
would seem to a reader too much like the corn-field job 
to bear the needful detail. 

So, too, the resumption of camp life at Cairo. As the 
men said: "Same old story, only wuss an' wuss, an' 
more of it." 

When the snow was half mud, and the mud was half 
water, and the three were combined into an enemy more 
invincible than an army with banners, an enemy which 
not merely invested but infested Cairo, Will Fargeon 
yielded to the pressure of circumstances and of home 
urgency, took a leave of absence and the noon train for 
Chicago. 

What a lot of miles! 365 — one for every day in the 
year — but they were homeward miles, and sweet to the 
soul. Did a fellow-passenger yearn for communion of 
spirit? Well, it was grudgingly given, for the moments 
of anticipation were too near absolute fruition to be 
wasted in talk when fancy might be running riot in 
thoughts of to-morrow. 

"Centralia! Twenty minutes for supper! " Snow, 
mud, darkness, glaring refreshment-room. 

"Rosbeefmuttonchopscoldamfish! " Not alluring to the 
common Christian, but quite so to the camp-weary cam- 
paigner — if they would only hurry through it and move 
on! 



CHICAGO AGAIN. I4I 

Rumble, rumble, rumble; sit awhile, stand awhile, 
walk awhile — always rumble, rumble, rumble, and always 
the rosy dream. Not an unhappy minute except when 
stopping at stations. (Then rises a chorus of snores.) 

Nine o'clock; time to wind his watch. Ten o'clock, 
eleven o'clock. Already? It seems impossible that 
these hours should be so full of delight and yet pass so 
quickly. Midnight — "Tolono! Ten minutes for refresh- 
ments! ' He crossed the dripping platform, shining 
under the lamps, and smiled as he heard the man ahead 
of him give the wholesome order: "Piece o' pie, cup 
o' coffee, and a paper o' chewin' tobacker." Then the 
long ten minutes of stop came to an end and the short 
hours of progress began again. 

Well, there was a to-morrow coming — a Chicago to-mor- 
row. He ought at least to try for a little sleep. Gripsack 
pillow is soft enough, army overcoat is warm enough, 
double seat is long enough — but heart is not calm enough. 
There is too much joy in waking to get to sleep. 
Rumble, rumble, rumble; more walking up and down 
the long-drawn aisle of the passenger coach. There 
were a mother and child who had got on at Tolono; and 
the baby cried until the mother was forced to cry too. 
Very good — here was Will's chance — he always was 
lucky! So he took the child without asking leave, raised 
it high in his stronj? arms and resumed his walk. Not 
another sound from the infant; it was fast asleep. The 
mother would have taken it from him; but no, she must 
put up her feet, cover her head in her shawl, and sleep, too. 

"Kankakee! " Only fifty-five miles more; of course it 
would scarcely pay to go to sleep now, so he would sit 
down, make himself into cradle-shape for the baby's sake, 
and watch the snow-flakes as they flitted past the window, 
showing for an instant in the light of the car lamps. 



142 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

What's all this? Why — why it's broad daylight, and 
the mother, up and refreshed, is trying to remove the 
sleeping baby from his arms without waking either of 
them ! 

The late winter sunrise is shining over the black and 
wrinkled face of Lake Michigan as he enters his native 
city. Sweet, sharp, frosty air fills his nostrils and re- 
freshes his heart. When he alights from the cars he 
stamps hard on the frozen soil; joyful to feel that it 
does not sink mushily under his heel. He hears the 
ringing, steely sound of sleigh-bells in the air. Inside 
the station he sees men capped and muffled against the 
cold, and through the doors he catches sight of horses' 
heads all white with their congealed breath. All is 
fresh, cold, wholesome, and exhilarating! 

After caring for his scanty luggage he turns up the 
high collar of his long blue army overcoat with its broad- 
shouldered cape, seizes his sword and sword belt with 
one hand, pulls down his kepi with the other, and pre- 
pares to face the sweet, dry frost. 

"Richmond House!" "Adams House!'' "Briggs 
House!" "Sherman House! " "7>r(f-mont House! " "Mas- 
sasoit House!" shout the representatives of those hos- 
telries. 

"My house!" cries the deep, sonorous, clerical voice of 
Mr. Penrose, who comes pushing his way through the 
crowd, closely followed by a lithe little figure all in furs. 

The sword falls clanging to the ground, for the indis- 
creet preacher seizes one of his hands, and somebody has 
to have the other! Somebody wants to call him her sol- 
dier — her hero — her own love; v/hile he wants to take some- 
body bodily into his arms and hold her there forever- 
more. 

For manifest reasons all these natural and blameless 



CHICAGO AGAIN. 1 43 

wishes must be suppressed. Even the silent hand-clasp 
and the long, loving look do not pass unnoticed. Cor- 
dial glances and sympathizing sm.iles center upon the 
little group, telling that more than one looker-on takes 
delight in the joy of the returned volunteer and his 
trembling, tearful, smiling welcomer. 

"Oh, you bearded warrior ! I didn't know you! You 
bronzed veteran — I want you to be introduced to me 
again! " 

"If I am changed, it is only on the outside. My heart 
is just the same." Then to Mr. Penrose: "Oh, my 
dear friend, don't trouble yourself with those things — 
there, the sword is falling out of the scabbard — let me 
relieve you of it. " 

"No, no! -I am proud to carry it!" And getting the 
weapon right end up at last, he marched forth in triumph. 
"Here's the covered sleigh. You and Sally can ride 
inside and I will drive." 

"There, there, Capt. Fargeon! That will do. How bold 
soldiers are, to be sure! " 

"But I may keep my arm around you, surely! " 

"Well — if you'll be very discreet — since arms are your 
profession. But, oh, how changed you are! " 

"Yes, I suppose so. Either I have changed or the 
world has changed; all looks so different to me in these 
few months. All but you, my sweet love! " * * * 

"Now, now — didn't I tell you to be discreet?" 

"How am I changed?" 

"Oh — take your face further away, so that I can see 
you. There ! You are very brown, and very thin. A 
deep wrinkle has come between your eyebrows; and your 
eyes, when they are not actually smiling, are sad. Your 
beard and mustache hide your mouth, but from your 



144 "^^^ CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

voice I'm sure your lips have grown grave, and — almost 
stern." 

"My eyes have looked on blood and death. My ears 
have heard awful sounds — minie bullets — the screaming 
of shells and the groans of dying men." 

He turns away his face and a far-away look comes into 
his eyes as the past comes back to him. 

Sally puts up her little mittened hand and pulls his 
face toward her again, saying in a soothing tone: 

"Never mind now, dear! Never mind now. Forget it 
all for awhile." And he gladly obeys her. 



What a breakfast Mrs. Penrose gave him! How good 
the home-made bread and sweet butter tasted! So good 
that Will wanted to make an entire meal on them. And 
then when the broiled whitefishcame on it was so mirac- 
ulously delicious that he was sorry he had eaten anything 
else. 

Yes, the world was changed. Everybody looked only at 
him, listened only to him. The boy — spes gregis in the 
Penrose fold — never took his eyes off him, and never 
opened his lips except to express silent awe and wonder 
— and to eat when he happened to think of it. Even the 
irrepressible Lydia was abashed for once in her life. 

Lydia, when he saw her last, had scarcely yet got used 
to long dresses, which she said made her feel as if her 
skirts were coming off. Now she had blossomed into a 
girl as pretty as her sister was beautiful. Then she had 
been still "Bunny;" and even yet, as of old, her dainty upper 
lip usually showed those two dainty upper teeth in a rab- 
bit-like fashion. But now she was "Lydia" (except when 
some one forgot, or wished to tease her), and made spas- 
modic efforts to subdue that rebellious lip — to "hold her 
lip," as Spes Gregis rudely and slangily expressed it. 



CHICAGO AGAIN. I45 

She had also nearly outgrown her old condition of chronic 
protest against the domination of the masterful Sara; 
so calm, so indomitable because irresistible, to her 
younger sister as well as to the rest of the world. 
Having a sphere of her own, she could let Sally reign su- 
preme in hers. 

"Well, Miss Bunny, how has your world gone on since 
I went away?" 

Lydia's lips suddenly closed, and she began looking all 
about the floor and even under the table. The others 
laughed, and Will asked: 

"What is she looking for?" 

"I am looking for Bunny, Capt. William Fargeon. I 
thought you had perhaps lost your pet rabbit." 

"I hope I haven't lost my pet little girl." 

"Well, if you haven't you soon will if you call her by 
a horrid nickname." 

"Any name would be sweet that had ever been associ- 
ated with you." 

Lydia tossed her lovely, curly head, but deigned to 
smile as she replied: 

"You had to say it, but I thank you all the same. 
Please try Lydia, and see if the rule about sweetness 
won't hold good." 

"The fact is. Will," said Sally, "I favored the name- 
reform movement because I have seen how bad it is to 
grow old with a nickname. We know two middle-aged 
ladies, regular mothers in Israel, who are called 'Chips' 
and 'Pinky' and always will be, by reason of the early 
errors of fond, foolish, misguided parents." 

'And Bunny blacked her teeth," cried Spes Gregis. 

This brought new laughter and the explanation that 
Lydia, in despair at the obstinate forgetfulness of her 

JO 



146 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

family and friends, had daily stained her teeth with ink 
until she thought the reform was effected. 

"Now, Brother Fargeon, I presume you would like me 
to give you a full account of the progress of the Lord's 
work in this part of His vineyard." 

"Oh, I have no doubt it is going on as it should." 

"To begin with your own especial garden, the Sabbath- 
school, you will remember that last year, just previous to 
our Christmas-tree, the average attendance rose to three 
hundred and eighty-four and a quarter; and, after the 
festivity, fell off to seventy-eight and two-thirds, a loss 
of eighty per cent. This year I am grieved to say that 
the highest average before the tree only rose to two hun- 
dred and six and two-fifths; but I am glad to be able to 
state that the proportionate decrease was less, following 
the festivity, than the year before, being only to fifty- 
two and one-third, which, throwing off the fraction of a 
child—" 

"But, papa, why do you throw off the fraction of a 
child? "Isn't a third of a child worth saving?" 

"Lydia, my daughter, no levity, if you please. Let me 
see, where was I? " 

"You were cutting up a child into fractions." 

"Lydia! " 

"Call her Bunny, father, and see how quick she'll 
stop! " advised the experienced Spes Gregis, unheeded. 

"But perhaps it was a fractious child, " persisted Lydia. 

In the laugh which followed this jest Sally managed to 
"head off" the earnest pastor from his salvation statis- 
tics, saying: 

"Well, papa, the amount of it is that the Sunday- 
school doesn't do as well as it did when Capt'n Fargeon 
was Superintendent Fargeon. But I, for one, would 
rather have him captain." 



CHICAGO AGAIN. I47 

"Doubtless, Sally. He who doeth all things well will 
not leave Himself without a witness, nor let His sheaves 
go ungarnered, because one of His servants is called to 
another field. But to resume — " 

"Of course," said Fargeon. "He can get along without 
me — or any of us — if He tries hard." 

A silence that followed this suggested to Fargeon that 
such expressions jarred on their reverent ears, and he 
hastened to add: 

"It would be the height of arrogance to count one's 
self necessary to the work of the church. Now, Mr. Pen- 
rose, did you think of taking a walk city-ward this morn- 
ing?" 

"Why, yes; I shall be very happy to accompany you. 
And we can continue our talk on this great theme as we 
walk. Let us sally forth." 

"Going to leave us already?" cried Sara, in pleading 
tones. "You ought to think of Sally first, and sally 
forth afterward." 

"Oh, ho! " cried Spes Gregis. "That joke came over 
in the ark. We will soon be hearing how all the pigs in 
the pen rose." 

"Stop squealing, littlest pig," observed the polite 
Lydia. 

"Business first, pleasure afterward, Sally. Being here 
with you — with all of you — is too joyful! I must dilute 
it a little, so as not to grow drunken with delight." 

"If I were invited to walk with you — " 

"But, Sally," interposed her mother; "your daily 
tasks — " 

"Oh, mamma, duty is nowhere with me to day! I am 
not a pattern; at this moment I am a reprobate ! I am 
utterly bent on a wicked, violent, unscrupulous, outra- 
geous course of turpitude! I will not sweep and dust the 



148 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

parlor, and I will not give Lj^dia her music lesson, and 
I will go out like a raging lion seeking whom I may de- 
vour somebody ! I will walk down town with papa and 
Capt. Fargeon, even though I have to be brought back 
in fetters and manacles! " 

"Fetters and manacles are the same, Sally." 

"Bunny! — middle-sized pig! — don't talk on subjects 
you know nothing about ! I am usually harmless, but 
dangerous when roused. Papa, wait till I put on my 
things." 

"But, Sally dear," began her mother, between laugh- 
ing and fault-finding. 

'Avaunt! Exemplary person, I know you not!" And 
she threw up her little hand like a tragedy queen or a 
statuette of liberty, and ran out of the room. 

'It is weeks and months — years, I might say — since 
we have seen our dear angel so gay," said the minister. 
"You must make allowances for her, captain." 

"Allowances!" cried Will, and then paused, at a loss 
for words to say how irresistibly lovely she seemed to 
him. 



Down the old familiar plank-walk they sped through 
the bracing air. The boards cracked and resounded 
under their tread. The sun sparkled on the icy waters 
of Lake Michigan. Each of the men gave an arm to the 
young woman (the walk being slipper}^ with frost), and 
her feet scarcely touched the ground, her steps keeping 
pace with the dancing of her happ3^ innocent heart. 
She had long been accustomed to feel the ej^es of men 
(and women, too,) constantly fixed on her exquisite face 
as they approached. Now she was delighted that it was 
Will in his uniform whom all looked at with flattering, 
welcoming attention. 



CHICAGO AGAIN. 149 

And Fargeon? Well, he was far from a vain man, but 
it was not a disagreeable thing to find face after face, 
whether of friend or stranger, man or woman, glowing 
and smiling at him. Some men and boys, meeting his 
answering eyes, took off their hats and swung them in 
flattering salutation. Those who recognized him shouted 
his name. One elderly woman — perhaps a soldier's 
mother — seized his disengaged hand and detained him 
long enough to press it to her veiled face, and then hur- 
ried on without a word. A little school-girl, sachel on 
arm, after he had passed her, made haste and thrust 
her mittened hand into his glove and trotted by his side, 
looking up at him in undisguised admiration. By and 
by, when they came to Quincy street, she seized his 
hand with both hers and hung back, saying, "Good-b3'e, 
soldier! " He stooped and kissed his rosy admirer, and 
when he walked on his eyes were full of tears. Said he 
huskily: 

"Sally — it almost pays for all!" 

The happy Sara could only press her handkerchief to 
her eyes and bury her face in his sheltering cape. 

They turned westward from Michigan avenue, and as 
they passed Dearborn street they came upon a little 
crowd clustered about two men struggling and fighting 
in the snow in front of a grog-shop. A poor w^oman was 
screaming: "Oh, he'll kill him! He's killin' my man! " 

"Where are the police?" angrily cried I\Ir. Penrose as 
he edged awa3^ 

"One moment, Sally," said Fargeon, disengaging his 
arm. 

"Oh, Will! Come away! Let us find a policeman — 
let the police attend to that." 

But he paid no attention to her; elbowed his way 
into the crowd; thrust aside the inefficient, fussing spec- 



150 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

tators, all afraid to interfere; seized the uppermost man, 
who was raining blows on the bloody, averted face of his 
prostrate foe — seized him with both hands and dragged 
him off, and with help of knee and foot flung him into 
the street. 

"Go on now! Go on about your business!" he said 
sternly, advancing tov/ard the fellow as he struggled to 
his feet. 

The wretch cursed him and made as if he would have 
jumped at him; but the crowd, emboldened by leader- 
ship, closed around the fellow and forced him away, one 
of his friends saying in an expostulating tone and a rich 
brogue: 

"Arrah, Dinny, go on wid yel Wud ye be afther 
shthrikin' the so'jer?" 

Will looked back to see that the wife and her friends 
were taking the vanquished combatant out of harm's 
way, and then hurried on to rejoin Sally and her father. 

"I think the constituted authorities are bound to deal 
with such things," said Mr. Penrose. 

"Yes, they are; but I guess the under fellow would 
have been killed before any constituted authorities got 
here." 

"And you might have been stabbed or shot, Will." 

"Not likely." 

"But, to resume," said the minister, resuming accord- 
mgly, and detailing wise views at some length, while the 
young folks walked on in silence, until Sally suddenly 
broke forth, squeezing Will's arm: 

"How changed you are! " 

"Ha, ha! " he laughed. "I suppose I am. A year ago 
I should have hunted for a policeman if it had taken all 
the morning, and then entered the complaint, followed 
up the trial, secured the conviction of the murderer — also 



CHICAGO AGAIN. I5I 

his conversion before execution — buried the dead and 
provided for the support of the widows and orphans." 

"Will, dear, this was better." 

"Thank you, Sally. Glad you like the religion of 
force." 

"Oh, I feel as if nothing could hurt you; as if you 
were invulnerable. Why isn't your name Achilles?" 

"Ah, I see 3'ou haven't forgotten our old reading-club 
evenings." 

"No, indeed ! And I think I'll begin calling you Achil- 
les — Killie instead of Willie! " 

"Well, now. Sail}', here's the counting-house door, 
and I've got to leave you and plunge into a fight where 
Achilles himself would be helpless." 

"Oh — that horrid business! Mean, narrow, sordid!" 
After a pause she added: "It was an arrow wound that 
killed Achilles! " They laughed. 

"But not a sword did," said Will; and even Mr. Pen- 
rose had to laugh at the classic joke (when it was made 
clear to him) before "resuming" the previous subject. 

So the lovers parted, each thinking how witty and how 
classic they both were, and that no matter how dull the 
lives of common folks grew after marriage, i/ieir married 
life would be one long, happy, gay, intellectual paradise. 

But now the captain fell into sore trouble. 



CHAPTER XII. 



ACHILLES HECTORED. 




HINGS were blue, very blue indeed, at 
Fargeon & Co.' s store. Will's part- 
ners were pale and thinj more worn 
down than Will himself. The pinch 
of war had already come, while the 
drunkenness of inflation was not yet. 
Customers' notes were uncollectible, 
and their own obligations necessarily 
postponed in consequence. They had taken some govern- 
ment contracts which they were filling at a loss, because 
goods were rising in price at the East, though not yet 
higher in Chicago. At the same time, their chief rival, 
Meyer Moss-Rosen, was said to be doing well, now that 
the great Fargeon was no longer personally an active 
competitor. 

Before noon Fargeon was inclined to wish himself back 
in camp with his poor, simple-hearted, single-souled sol- 
diers. Instead of having, as of old, to tear himself away 
from his business, he bad to force himself to stay among 
its discouraging, confounding, confounded intricacies. In 
a month or two he could have got into harness once more; 
could perhaps have peered into the future and foreseen 
the towering rise in prices that was bound to follow the 
issue of greenbacks. If he had not thrown himself into 
the gulf of war, he could, like others, have flown high upon 

153 



ACHILLES HECTORED. I53 

its vapors. He, like others, could have made millions in 
the days when "the biggest fool was the wisest man of 
business," because wild speculation, piling up mountains 
of debt, buying, begging, borrowing, stealing — anything 
to get hold of property — during the huge inflation of 
1862-65, was for once in the country's history the sure 
and only road to wealth. 

The monthly trial-balances which had found their 
way to him in camp had half broken his business heart; 
now the actual, physical contact with the reality went 
near to finish him. Such prices as goods were marked 
at for sale! Not because they were worth the new 
values, but simply because nothing less would bring the 
firm out whole. 

"Uncle Colin, what do you say to all this?" 

"Aweel, ma lad, be it peace or be it strife, the warld's 
na changit. Fast bind, sure find. Brag's a gude dog, 
but haudfast's a better. Wha gangs a-borrowin' gangs 
a-sorrowin'. Mind ye this: whate'er the pace, slow 
and steady wins the race. Mackerel skies an' gray 
mares' tails male high ships carry low sails. Never syne 
the v/arld standit was the sky mair clapperclawit than 
noo, an' wae's me for the ship-man that heeds not they 
signs. Ye maun buy what ye see the surety o' sellin', 
an' mak nae promises that ye see nae suret)'^ o' keepin'. 
Thae preenciples hae guided me, an' hae stood me in gude 
stead a' m}' life, when ither men — aiblins better men 
— went doon. I just tuke heed that the day's refection 
should bear the morrow's reflection. That's a' the wit 
your Uncle Colin knaws — but ye'll gang yer ain gait. 
You Yankees are neither to hand nor to bind." 

"Surely, surely, Uncle Colin, " Will hastened to answer, 
"those are the lessons I was brought up on. The other 
fellows seem to have learned some new ones, but if they 



154 I'HE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

are good sense — why, I have been out of school while 
the old wisdom was rubbed out and the new written on 
the blackboard." 

One little circumstance, corrective of any lingering 
tendency to puffed-up-ness on Fargeon's part, was the 
comparative indifference v/hich business men felt and 
showed for his war record. William Fargeon had gone 
off to fight — a very proper and creditable thing for 
William to do, but — business is business. 

"Well, Meyer, how goes it?" 

"Why, William ! is that you? Glad to see you back ! 
Let's see — two arms, two legs, one head — goods seem 
to agree with inventory and sample so far." 

"Oh, yes; I'm all here yet." 

"Well, that's first-rate! Been in any battles yet?" 

"Some skirmishes." 

"And never touched, eh?" 

"Not yet." 

"You're in luck! Well, you always were a lucky cuss. 
Shouldn't wonder if you came out safe and sound after 
all! You'll save the Union and be back again, under-buy- 
ing and under-selling the rest of us, like old times, 
before we know it! " 

"Can't most always tell what we may least expect. 
What do you think of trade?" 

"Oh, don't ask me." [Fargeon was not a purchaser, 
so the most bearish views were in place.] "Some pre- 
tend to think they can see their way out, but hang me 
if / can." 

"'It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer, but when 
he is gone his way then he boasteth.' " 

"Ha, ha! You always were a cuss at quoting Script- 
ure! I'd like to see the buyer that can boast nowa- 
days. I buy a bale of goods, sell it at what looks to be a 



ACHILLES HECTORED. 1 55 

profit, and hang me if it don't take every cent I got for 
it to buy another like it! " 

"How are collections?" 

"Collections! There ain't any. Nobody pays in any- 
thing but promises." 

"Come over and buy us out. I'll take your promises 
for every stitch we've got." 

"Buy you out? Yes, if you'll take pay in the bad debts 
we've got owing to us!" He laughed and turned awa)^ to 
hide the flash tliat came from his shrewd eyes at the 
thought of getting hold of that great mass of goods at 
last year's prices. 

"Think it over, Meyer." 

Mej'er Moss-Rosen did think it over. Little sleep 
did he get that night, and before morning he was a 
millionaire in his waking dreams. 



"Oh, Sally, how tired I am!" 

"Why, Will, deal' Will, you look perfectly worn out ! 
What have those horrid, sordid, low counter-jumpers 
been saying to my splendid soldier?" 

"The truth, I believe." 

"Never mind them, my poor dear! " 

"But I must mind them, love. I owe vast sums of 
money that must be paid." 

"Well, I have hundreds of dollars of my very own. 
That will help. And how much is your pay as captain?" 

He laughed almost gayly, as he replied: 

"Oh, you blessed little simple-hearted financier!" 
(squeezing her pretty chin until its dimple was as profound 
as her wisdom). "Your hundreds of dollars, added to 
my pay as captain for a hundred years, would just make 
a little bit of a beginning toward paying those debts, if 
no interest were charged meanwhile." 



156 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

"Interest? Our whole interest is in you! We owe you 
soldiers all our interest in life!" 

"Well, how about the principal?" 

"Oh, bother the principal! Don't tell me that people 
who don't goto the war are going to demand money from 
those who do! " 

"Oh, won't they, though; that's all!" 

"Well, Captain Fargeon, " broke in Mr. Penrose, "now 
let me tell you what I've been doing for Company K 
this morning." 

"Again have you come to our rescue, Mr. Penrose? I 
remember how you got our outfit." 

"A hundred double blankets, twenty camp-kettles, ten 
axes with helves — " began the minister. 

"Father!" screamed Lydia, clapping her hands to her 
ears. "Father! " murmured Sally, doing likewise. "Now, 
my dear! " expostulated Mrs. Penrose, while the boy made 
a pretense of hiding under the table— from which demon- 
strations Will guessed that Mr. Penrose must have men- 
tioned the matter before. 

"There, Captain; that's the' way they gibe and jeer at 
me whenever I allude, even in the most casual manner, 
to the little service I was able to render you — buying the 
things you wanted, whereof, by the way, I unluckily lost 
the list. One would think that I had frequently spoken 
of the circumstance, while in fact the case is quite the 
contrary. And such is the gratitude of republics! But 
to resume: You know it was the Fulcrum which sent 
down its reporter on the sword-presentation occasion. 
Well, the Rostrum is bitter as ever against the Fulcrum, 
so I went to see its editor, whom I know well, and told 
the story of your skirmish and the shabby way in which 
the Fulcrum behaved about it." 
' "You did? You frighten me! Where should I stand 



ACHILLES HECTORED. I57 

in the army if I were to show up as using m}' leave oi 
absence to hunt for newspaper notoriet)'?" 

"Oh, I took care to say that I called without your priv- 
ity, and they promised to make that plain." 

"And what did you tell them?" 

"Simply and truly that the reporter had taken offense 
at your proper reticence, and had vindictively and wan- 
tonly suppressed the identity of the fighters." 

"Mmm! Well, it's the truth, anyway. Poor Clint 
Thrush! " 

"They are crazy to get hold of the thing, and are going 
to send a short-hand man here to-night to get your story 
of the battle — " 

"Skirmish." 

"Well, whatever 5'ou call it. But to resume: They say 
that they will have something simply terrible — a scoop, 
I think they call it — on, or in, or over, or under, or some- 
where about the Fulcrum. I asked in vain for further 
information as to the nature of 'scoop' — whether it was 
anything explosive, or poisonous, or disgraceful, or in the 
nature of a legal or punitive process; thej' only laughed, 
and said it was worse than any of those, and advised 
me to wait and see if it didn't make the Fulcrum people 
lie down and howl and feel sorry for the day they were 
born !" 

"Oh, a 'scoop' is only the seizure of an interesting 
item by one journal to the exclusion of another." 

"Ah ! is that all? " said Mr. Penrose, rather crest-fallen. 
But to resume. 



War correspondence had not then risen to the high art 
it afterward became. Fargeon (through years of prac- 
tice as philanthropic platform-speaker) was expert in 
the putting of things into simple, graphic language, and 



158 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

he was able to talk to the Rostrum's reporter half an 
hour in a flow of homely narrative that placed the events 
of the corn-field before the reader like a photograph; 
while, at the same time, partly by instinct and partly 
by design, he managed to keep himself almost out of 
sight in the picture. 

In reply to a direct question regarding his interview 
with the Fulcrum's representative, he said: 

"Oh, I have no disagreement with the young man. If 
he had come to me an hour later, after I had reported 
to my commanding officer, I should have told him the 
same story I have told you. But I suppose he knew his 
business, and took what would interest his readers." 

The modest tale, pathetic, touching, harrowing, inspir- 
ing, made a sensation. It was an education to its 
readers concerning the realities of war from the point of 
view of the front-line men. Hitherto they had been 
confined to the old-fashioned, upholstered, historical 
form — charging battalions, triumphant tactics, masterly 
combinations, and other stuff, chiefly manufactured at 
headquarters after the musket-carriers had won or lost a 
day. For example: 

"Gen. Rearview now observing a wavering on the left, 
led forward the brigades of the reserve, and right gal- 
lantly did they spring to the rescue. Passing through 
the decimated ranks of their comrades, and over the 
bodies of the fallen, lying so close together that it was 
difficult to avoid stepping on them, they soon crossed 
bayonets with the foe." 

Here, on the other hand, was a narrative of what Brown 
and Jones and Robinson did and tried to do; how they 
loaded and fired and bled and died, and how they felt 
about it; how prisoners are taken, and dead and 
wounded are cared for; and, incidentally, how the 



ACHILLES HECTORED. I59 

Fulcrum failed to get hold of the matter. It was break- 
fast-table-talk in the morning, and town-talk by noon; 
and the Fulcrum "couldn't stand the pressure," but sent 
one of its editors to Fargeon to try to set itself right. 

"Capt'nFargeon, it appears that you think you have a 
grievance against the Fulcrum." 

"You are mistaken, sir." 

"Well, to read what the Rostrum says this morning 
it looks that way to a man up a tree. " 

"The Rostrum got nothing from me except the ac- 
count of my company's skirmish, and the fact that your 
young man asked me to make my report to him before I 
had seen Colonel Puller." 

"You did not inspire the attack they made on us?" 

"Not in the remotest degree." 

"Well, now we propose to do full justice to 5'ou, and 
shall be glad to publish whatever 3'ou have to say." 

"Thank you. " 

"What shall it be?" 

"Nothing." 

"Why, you know the Fulcrum has a good deal of influ- 
ence on the public mind in Illinois." [No reply.] "We 
reall}' desire to give you a chance to place yourself in 
the light you would wish to appear in." 

"Thank you again. Whenever I wish to make any per- 
sonal explanation through your columns I shall certainly 
call on you." [A beaming smile reinforced this asser- 
tion.] 

"Well — now — " [evidently disconcerted] "is not some- 
thing due to us, in view of the virulent attack the Ros- 
trum has made?" 

"I'm sure I can't say." [More smiles.] "It's none of 
my funeral." 



l60 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

"Why shouldn't you treat us as well as you did the 
enemy?" 

"What? The rebels?" 

"No, the Rostrum." 

"Oh, I beg your pardon. I do say to you exactly what 
I said to the Rostrum; that is, that Company K, of 
the Sixth Illinois, largely a Chicago regiment, did its 
duty, did its best; and that Private De Witt Clinton 
Thrush, of Kingsbury street, was killed, and Privates 
Robinson, Alger, Corson, Bryan, and Taylor were 
wounded, and that four rebels were killed and four 
wounded that we know of — and that I shall be glad to 
have the friends of the company, especially of the sol- 
diers named, made aware of these facts." 

"And that is all?" 

"That is all 1 have told and all I have to tell." 
[Smiles—always smiles in plenty.] 

A very crest-fallen editor soon departed from Mr. Pen- 
rose's door and returned to the office of the Fulcrum ; 
while Will and Sarah went forth for a long and lovely 
walk, during which they talked over the "interview" with 
much happy laughter and many congratulations regard- 
ing the day's doings, especially the discomfiture of the 
Fulcrum. 

When they returned, two hours later, behold the same 
gentleman, reinforced by a short-hand writer, impatiently 
waiting for a second interview. 

"Captain, since I saw you we have telegraphed Col. Y. 
R. Puller, and ascertained that it was Company K which 
covered the retrograde movement, and had another fight 
with the enemy." 

"That is the fact, sir." 

"Now, will 3'ou be good enough to dictate to my re- 



ACHILLES HECTORED. l6l 

porter an account of that operation — that is, if you have 
no objection?" 

"Certainly not." 

"You -won't? Now let me tell you, sir, that the Ful- 
crum is not to be trifled with! It is a power in the land, 
and can make and unmake such men as William Far- 
geon, late trader, now company officer of volunteers! " 

"Very possibly. It is also possible that you misunder- 
stood me. I meant to say that I certainly had no objec- 
tions to stating the facts of the operations of the day 
j-ou speak of for publication in the Fulcrum — seeing that 
I have long since reported them to my commanding 
officer." [Smiles as before.] 

"Oh — I beg 5'our pardon." [Quite humbly for an 
editor.] "Then at your convenience the reporter will 
take down all you have to say; and, Captain [with con- 
descension], "I assure j'^ou, the more the better!" 

The Fulcrum of next morning had two columns to the 
Rostrum's one concerning Company K's doings; and in 
order to out-Herod Herod, and quite leave the Rostrum 
in the shade as a friend to the volunteers, it pursued the 
unpleasant course of plastering Fargeon himself with 
fulsome praise: "The modest hero and patriot." "But 
for the enterprise of the Fulcrum in telegraphing to 
Cairo for the information the world would never have 
known even that that splendid company had rendered 
the valorous and dangerous service so graphically set 
forth in our columns this morning. Its captain, a true 
Chicagoan, was far too modest and retiring to volunteer 
the information." 

So were all wrongs righted, and honor given to whom 
honor was due. 

Fargeon had no end of "glory" in the days following. 
Invitations showered on him. Mr. Penrose's church was 



l62 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

crowded with people anxious for a glimpse of his shoul- 
der-straps. Sally Penrose was happy and proud and smil- 
ing and talkative. She accepted congratulations without 
reserve. Oh, no, she could not say when "it" could be — 
perhaps never — but she could hope — al 1 could hope and pray 
for Captain Fargeon's safety, and that even if wounded 
his precious life might be spared. Then she added to 
herself: "He doesn't seem to be in a dreadful hurry to 
marry me. I thought men always were. I'm sure in novels 
girls are everlastingly pressed to name the day! Perhaps I 
am too repellant." So she tried hard not to be. And 
she was utterly, entirely, absolutely, perfectly happy — 
almost. 



"Gabriel," said the editor-in-chief to the managing 
editor of the Fulcrum, "it was Parson Penrose that 
started that thing in the R. , wasn't it?" 

"Yes." 

"That d — d old cuss has had a good deal of free adver- 
tising from us, hasn't he?" 

"No end of it, for years — ever since he came to that 
church." 

"Well, stop it." 

So the word went down through the establishment, 
"Drop Penrose." And his name was never again men- 
tioned in the Fulcrum. No more reports of sermons. 
No more sketches of "remarks." No more of the thou- 
sand and one little recallings of him to the pubhc heart, 
which had been sweet and dear to the good dominie through 
all the years of his able, earnest, heart}^, valuable, toilsome, 
ill-paid service to the cause of religion, temperance, 
patriotism, charity, and morality. 

But to resume. 



CHAPTER XIII. 



"will fargeon, your'e an awful goose." 

|ERHAPS he'll ask me to-day! " 
But he didn't. 

"Good evening, Mister Cap- 
tain William Fargeon, Esq. 
How are things at the store? 
Any better?" 

A sad smile, a sigh, and a lit- 
tle, quick, almost imperceptible 
shake of the head — more like a 
shiver than a negation. 

"Oh, dear; Willie — or, if you 
like it better, oh! dear Willie — 
why are you not like a novel 
hero? Why don't you sink 
gracefully on one knee, gestic- 
ulate loudly with your right hand, and say: 'Miss Penrose, 
I am a capitalist, wealthy, affluent and rich, with a large 
fortune and plenty of money besides. Take this hand! 
Be mine!' That is the nice way to behave!" 

"Delightful! Only I should have to finish my speech 
by adding that my other name was Ananias." 

"Well, now, Achilles Ananias William, do tell me 
exactly how it is. I can bear it. All my life I have 
had so many disappointments that nothing can surprise 
me except an — appointment." 

"Oh, Sally, as things stand, I have less than nothing. 

163 




164 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

The best news I could have, would be that somebody 
would take all we have and pay our debts." 

"Well, dear, what difference should that make to us? 
I never loved you for your money. When you had most 
I liked you least. And now the reverse is true." [She 
meant the converse.] 

Will's reply to this was not in words. It was gratify- 
ing, even consolatory; but it was not an acceptance of 
her flattering advances. 

"If my time was not otherwise pledged, I could do as 
I did once before; get an extension of credit from my 
creditors, and think and work and strive and contrive 
until I had again paid every cent I owe. But now I sup- 
pose I must leave it all at loose ends — go off to the front 
— give to the great cause the time I owe to those who 
have trusted me — hear of their trust's being disappointed 
— and almost wish a heaven-directed bullet might wipe 
out the score." 

"Oh, don't — don't talk so! You are horrid! How 
you overestimate money and underestimate life — and 
courage — and love 1" 

"Shouldn't we rate highest what is most in demand 
and least in supply?" 

"Well — you seem to do so, at any rate." [A little air 
of injury and offended pride had to be charmed away.] 
"Uncle Colin Thorburn is coming this evening. Let us 
talk to him, and perhaps he can build you up a bit." 

Thorburn had the old-time and old-world view of 
things. 

"The deil is gaun ower Jock Wabster. Ye cannawhup 
the dom secesh — it canna be done — heest'ry shows that 
whaur a' the folk in a gret deestrict o' country are banded 
thegither to set up for theirsels they canna be o'ercome." 

"You thought we ought to try." 




i65 



l66 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

"Sae ye should strive, an' sairly, an' sae ye have striven. 
An' Bull Run's the upshot! I thocht that a gude 
show o' force and speerit wad haud the Southrons back 
frae f editing; but it didna — it didna — an' noo, the deil's 
gaun ower Jock Wabster. " 

"Well, Uncle Colin, you say the South cannot be over- 
come: I say the North cannot be defeated. We are 
bound to maintain the Union, and we will do it, too! 
But that's aside from the matter of making my store pay 
its debts." 

Then, upon solicitation, he told the old man just how 
things stood — how the stock on hand was inventoried, 
how much the good bills receivable amounted to, and 
how much the delayed, doubtful and bad; then, the 
awful sum of the bills payable — some past due and un- 
paid — "Six figures and neither of them a one." 

"Aweel, ma lad; gin ye' 11 stay and settle up the thing 
yer ain sel' — " 

"That is out of the question." 

"Then leave orders to buy nothin' an' sell eyerythin' — 
and auld Colin' 11 see ye through." 

"What?" 

"I lo'e the Union, whaur I hae made ma fortin'. I'm 
ower auld to gang doon a-fechtin' for it — but I'm no too 
auld to care for a fine young sprig that I lo'e like I'd lo'e 
my ain son if I had ane; So gang yer gait. Gie me 
your poo-er of attorney to close up yer matters, an' I'll 
gie ye ma obligation to pay evera cent ye owe in the 
warrld." 

"Impoverish yourself for me?" 

"Aiblins aye, aiblins no. Dinna fash yersel' aboot that. 
I might come oot squar. I might e'en save a wee bittock 
for a hansel for you and the bonnie lassie here whan a's 
said an' done." 



"will fargeon, you're an awful goose." 167 

The bonnie lassie went up to the old man and gave 
him a kiss and hug that showed what she thought of him, 
even if it did not altogether balance the magnificent offer 
he had made. 

"Well, Uncle Colin," laughed Will, "I might as well 
let my creditors suffer as strip you; but I thank you all 
the same." 

"Na, na, ma lad. Ye're no the mon to tak their ainfrae 
them by force, when ye can tak mine frae me by ma f rae 
will. An' then as to streepin' — I'm no sae easy streepit. 
It wadna streep me. Auld Thorburn could pay it a', an' 
yet no gang wantin' a bite an' a sup in his auld age." 

"What! Those bills payable?" 

"Aye; thae bills peeable. Colin's nae booster, an' 
ye're the only mon and Sally's the only woman in the 
warrld he'd tell it til; but noo ye ken the truth, the vara 
truth." 

"Well, well!" cried Fargeon. "That is good news! 
That is another instance to prove what I always believed 
— that a good life well spent is sure of its reward." 

"Aye, lad, sure eneuch — if not in this warld, in some 
ither. " 

"No, no; I mean right here and now. Mankind does 
not take benefits from men without repaying them." 

"Aye, aye, lad. Gang yer gait an' think sae whilst 3'e 
can." 

"Why, Uncle Colin! " said Sally in expostulating tones. 
"How dismally you talk! We love to reward our bene- 
factors. Just see how all the land is trying to be kind 
to the soldiers! There is nothing too good for them." 

"Bide a wee, lass, bide a wee. The war is only just 
begun — gratitude is weel said to be a lively sense of 
future fayvors — bide till the fayvors are a' rendered, then 
mark how sune they'll be forgot!" 



1 68 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

"Oh, it's not so! It's not so! I won't listen to such 
horrid talk-' " And she covered her ears with her hands. 

"Aweel, ma bonnie lass; gin ye list me or no, ye 
maun learn byexper'ence an' no by ma puir guess-warrk. 
An' ye' 11 learn that to mak' the warrld pay its debts, ye 
maun baud an' bind it hard an' fast before ye do your 
part of the bargain." 

Then he told them a fable. Once there was a "puir 
simple body" who thought, as Sally thought, that man- 
kind would care for its servants, small and great. He 
tried many experiments in the line of rendering public 
benefits which nobody seemed to appreciate; he himself 
growing poorer and poorer as time went on. At last, one 
day, when he was starving, he observed that a certain 
park gate was an obstruction to travel, thousands of per- 
sons being obliged to open it for passage every day. He 
seized his opportunity, posted himself at the gate, and, 
with a bow and a smile, opened it for every comer, large 
and small, high and low, rich and poor. Then his wants 
were relieved, for they put him in a mad-house. 

After Uncle Colin had departed, the lovers talked over 
his munificent offer, and his great fortune, hitherto un- 
suspected. Sally urged her hero to accept the proposition, 
so that his soul might be freed from these sordid cares — 
free for war, and friendship and affection. 

But at the same time her gratitude to the old man was 
sadly interfered with by her indignation at his cruel, 
hateful cynicism — his skepticism regarding the undying 
gratitude in store for the volunteers. Her father agreed 
with her. 

"Capt'n Fargeon, I hope that neither you nor any other 
volunteer will give weight to such words — unpatriotic 
I should call them, but that Brother Thorburn is an 
alien. Coming from the mouth of any American, I 



"will fargeon, you're an awful goose.' 



169 



should feel impelled to rebuke them as being unjust 
toward man and blasphemous toward God. If I err not, 
He would pour out the vials of His wrath on this nation, 
were it ever to justify the gloomy prophecies of Brother 
Thorburn." 

Will thought of the "squeeze" he was undergoing in 
his business matters, sighed and shook his head doubt- 
fully. Sally looked at him with anxious, sympathetic 
eyes, yearning to reassure and comfort him. 

When they parted (for he had insisted on transferring 
himself to his own 4\t,)''''/y i '1 / ♦ 

lodgings) she fairly 
clung to his neck with 
her white hands, as if 
she could not let him 
go, or as if she had 
something more to say. 
She did let him go, and 
she did not say it, 
whatever it was. But 
when he had shut the 
gate and was walking 
away she called after 
him: 

"Will Fargeon — you 
■ — are — an — awful — goose! " 

And then she slammed the door and fled to her own 
room like a scared fawn — only fawns cannot blush. 




"An important movement on foot. All officers on leave 
ordered to rejoin their regiments at once." 

Such was the startling head-line Mr. Penrose read out 
from the Fulcrum at breakfast next morning. 

The cup of milk Sally was raising to her lips fell to 



170 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

the table and broke, and its contents streamed down her 
dress. Lydia, who sat beside her, hurried to wipe off 
the fluid, Sally not making a motion to help. She only 
said, in a thin voice not her own: 

"I'm afraid — my gown — is spoiled." 

And then they laid her gently down on the sofa, happily 
unconscious of the dreadful news and of the agitated 
scene enacting around her. The agitation passed; her 
pulse returned; her breathing became stronger and more 
regular. At last the great lids lifted from her soft eyes, 
and after a moment of death-like wandering, they fixed 
themselves on her mother's face bending over her. 

"Oh, mamma! it's nothing. Of course I knew it must 
come, sometime. This is the end — that' sail." And she 
burst into a storm of tears and sobs. 

Later, even this abated, and she grew calm, and insisted 
on the others finishing their breakfast, a command which 
the dominie was only too glad to obe)- — had been await- 
ing some time, in truth. 

"Father? please ask Capt'n Fargeon to bring Mr. Thor- 
burn with him when he comes. I want to see them to- 
gether." 

"But, my love, I don't like to leave you so ill." 

"Now, father, don't do as you did that other time — 
made a failure, so that I had to go to the station to find 
Mr. Fargeon! " 

She tried to smile, and did manage to put on a little 
bit of the appearance of strength and courage. 

All the gentlemen came up to mid-day dinner and she 
welcomed them with a sad smile. She could not sit at 
the table, "to spoil your appetite with my foolishness," 
she said; so she lay on the lounge, a vision of beauty, 
and tried to eat a little from a stand placed at her side; 
her own and her lover's eyes meeting and dwelling to- 



"will fargeon, you're an awful goose." 171 

gether without any pretense of secrecy. Such moments, 
hke those of death, are far above disguise and shame- 
facedness. 

During dinner came the usual daily letter from Mac, 
written in his strong, stiff, unaccustomed, soldierly hand, 
beginning, as always, "I have the honor to report," and 
containing the "sick report" and "guard-house report," the 
"general orders," if any, and the "watchword and coun- 
tersign," and nothing else, before the military close, "I 
have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient 
servant." But to-day Fargeon' s eye was caught by an 
enigmatical postscript: "I beg leave respectfully to ask 
your attention to the request I had the honor to make to 
you before you left camp. " 

"Now what on earth did Mac ask me to do for him.''" 
And he passed the letter around the table for suggestions. 

"Possibly he needs something which might favorably 
affect the moral nature of the men," suggested Mr. Pen- 
rose, privately thinking of a large number of copies of 
a bound volume of his sermons, which were still un- 
called for. 

"More likely something good to eat," ventured Spes 
Gregis. 

"I wonder if his wardrobe is fully supplied," said 
Mrs. Penrose, her very fingers itching to be called upon 
to sew, or knit, or work, or crochet something that could 
add to a soldier's comfort. 

"I'm afraid it was only to urge you to hurry back," 
cried Sally. "That is what I should ask if I were there. 
But Vm not; I'm here, and I don't want him to have 
his wish !" 

Lydia was the only one who had not spoken. The 
letter rested in her hands, and her glowing face bending 
over it suddenly recalled the whole matter to Fargeon. 



172 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

"Why, Lydia! How stupid of me! Of course I know 
now — it was that I was to beg, borrow, or steal a portrait 
of the young lady who made that needle-case! The one 
I had was lost during our expedition." 

All eyes were turned toward Lydia, who blushed and 
bridled, and then suddenly buried her face in the hollow 
of her arm and began to cry. 

"Why, Lydia, what is there to cry about?" 

"You can simply decline, my daughter, if it is so dis- 
tasteful to you." 

"Certainly, there need be no distress over the matter. 
I can explain that I forgot the errand until just as I was 
starting." 

"Never mind, Bunny! Don't cry. I'll send him mine, 
and so it'll be all right," remarked Spes Gregis, to 
clinch the matter. 

"Let me be! Go awa}', all of you! I'm only crying 
because I didn't know in time to be taken in my new 
hat." 

Then it was easily settled, that the very best of the 
old pictures should go, now, to be followed by one taken 
in the new hat at the earliest opportunity. 

They talked everything over after dinner. Events 
seemed to combine to force W^ill to accept Thorburn's 
kind offices, and he reluctantly concluded to do so. 
Will's junior partners were only too glad to have the 
shrewd old Scot to share their responsibilities; and the 
needful documents were executed in time to let Will 
spend some quiet hours at the parsonage, Thorburn con- 
sideratel}' declining to be one of the party. 

"Good-bye, Uncle Colin. Take care of Sally while I 
am down tending gate, like the fellow in the fable." 

"God guard ye, ma lad! gin ye win safe hame. I'll 
see that ye' 11 no hae to gang til the mad-hoose after a'." 



"WILL FARGEON, YOU'RE AN AWFUL GOOSE. 



173 



Needless to try to tell of Will's parting with the others. 
It was like the tens of thousands of other partings of 
those days at the North, the South, the East, and the 
West. But after the last kiss, the last word, the last 
embrace, Sally called her lover back to whisper some- 
thing in his ear — then changed her mind and pushed him 
away, saying: 

"No — I won't tell you after all!" 



Meyer Moss-Rosen had been aching to see Will again 
on the subject of the 
purchase of his business, 
but he did not dare to 
make the first advances. 
He absolutely kept away 
from the Fargeon store, 
but oh! how his eyes 
kept watch of his own 
doors, hoping to see Will 
appear! Now, when his 
rival had been suddenly 
called away, he cursed 
his caution, and wished 
that he had braved the! 
loss of a few thousands,' 
rather than that of the 
whole huge prize. 

But he soon found that 
all had turned in favor of 
his grasping hopes. Fargeon was gone; but he had left 
his affairs in the hands of old Thorburn — shrewd and 
cool-headed, but a foreigner, a conservative, an unbe- 
liever in miracles, a believer in precedents, a skeptic as 




174 '^^^ CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

to any profit being possible out of great, immeasurable 
disaster. 

To pass quickly over a dry bit of our story: Thor- 
burn sold and Moss-Rosen bought the entire assets, ac- 
counts, stock, leasehold, good-will, and fixtures of the 
Fargeon store, the consideration being the assumption 
by the buyer (with ample security) of all the debts owed 
by the Fargeon firm; also the employment of the Far- 
geon partners and employes at fair wages for consider- 
able lengths of time, dependent on good conduct and 
faithful service. 

Thorburn was so overjoyed that he could not refrain 
from telegraphing the news to Fargeon, paying dollars 
for the long message; to which Will replied tersely, 
"Thank God and thank you," and signed it "Gate-opener. " 

A year later the thing sold was worth above its price 
Sioo,ooo (in greenbacks); two years and a half later 
$250,000 (in greenbacks); and, fifteen 5'ears after //la/, 
greenbacks and gold were interchangeable commodities, 
dollar for dollar. The miracle happened; all precedent 
was denied and all "heest'ry" defied. The purchase w\ s 
Moss-Rosen's first great step in the vast fortune he 
accumulated — millions — which he held fast up to the 
time of the great fire, and might have kept to this day 
if he had not (in the slang of the time) "wanted the earth. " 

The good old man who had been the unwitting agent 
of Fargeon's financial mistake never forgave hiiliself 
his share in the blunder. "Me to fancy, like an auld fule 
as I am, that a Yankee ell could be gauged by a Scottish 
thumb!" And he tried, with his latest breath, to atone 
for the error, as we shall see hereafter. 



"Sally, dear, I suppose you are growing accustomed to 
these ragged note-book leaves, scribbled over at all kinds 
of moments (with words of nok'ind of moment) and torn 



"will fargeon, you're an awful goose." 175 

out to send to you. Well, this one will surely be wildly 
illegible, for as I write it I am standing on the rear 
platform of the hindmost car in the train which is carry- 
ing me south to — who knows what? The great, pure, 
pale moon is almost setting in the west. Good-bye 
moon I You have shone upon the happiest nights of my 
life — those of the past week, spent with my sweet love. 
Now the rude day is dimming your peaceful light in 
unfriendly glare! Heigh-ho! 

"Now we are halting awhile in the open prairie. How 
the frogs are trilling their ceaseless, senseless song in the 
invisible ditches at the side of the track ! R-r-r-r-r-r-ee! 
R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-ee ! Trills near and trills far, following, 
crowding upon one another, overlapping and making 
the sound continuous as a whole, though dominated by 
one brazen-throated denizen of the nearest puddle. 

You may guess, from the unseasonable place and hour 
at which I scrawl these lines, that this has not been a 
very restful night. Well, who could sleep — who would 
willingly sleep — under my present circumstances? Just 
parted from the loveliest, dearest, sweetest of women; 
the one woman whom * * * =f 

"What? The moon is gone. Thus perish the fairest 
of earth's visions. 

"Now we are rumbling on again. The dawn is redden- 
ing the east. So flat is the prairie, and so low the train, 
that my horizon is formed of the tall grasses only a 
stone's throw off — all the rest is starry sky, reddening, 
always reddening to the sunrise. Long level streaks of 
fire fringe the under edges of low-lying clouds in the east. 
As it grows lighter, I see that the prairie around me is 
covered with a lake of heavy, white mist. Ugh! It 
looks so cold that I shiver! And here comes the brake- 
man to put out the light by which I have been writing. 
Good night, dear — or rather, good morrow " 




CHAPTER XIV. 

9 

BOAT, BIVOUAC, AND BREAKFAST. 

AC, where have you been?" 

"Away out in the bow, Captain," 
"On the lookout for rebs?" 
"On the Hsten. Come forward 
and hark. There; now we' re out of 
the noise of our own boat. Hark!" 
Boommm! 
Boooommnimm! 
"What's that?" 

"Gun-boats shelhng Fort Donel- 
son." 

"Can they take the fort?" 

"Naw!" [The fio contemptuous is naw.'] "Artillery 
can destroy, but it's only infantry that can capture." 

"Mac, do you know, I half suspect you were born in 
the infantry." After waiting in vain for a laugh at this 
poor joke he changed the subject. 

"Who is this Grant, anyhow?" 

"West Point and Mexico." 

"Is he all right?" 

"I guess so, if he'll keep straight. He was a bully 
good company officer; but I hear he went a little wild 
after he came home from Mexico." 

"Will he do any good here?" 

"Well, he took Fort Henry the other day with a hurrah, 
after the gum-boots had tramped it all out of shape. Now 

176 



BOAT, BIVOUAC, AND BREAKFAST. 1 77 

he's after bigger game — their whole army and Donelson 
itself." 

At last the Saginaw ran her nose into the muddy bank 
and the Sixth Illinois disembarked, looking in vain for 
the Silverheels with the regimental baggage. When they 
could wait no longer, the men marched along the rear of 
the earlier comers to their designated camp; alas! no 
camp ! "Foot, Legget and Walker' s line again, " they said. 

As they plodded wearily on, "hunching up" their heavy 
cartridge-boxes, and changing their heavy niuskets from 
one shoulder to the other, they could hear the novel, 
thrilling sounds on their left — distant musketry and field 
artillery, and always the sullen thunder of the fort and 
the gun-boats. 

Weary miles are passed. Night falls, and the gleam 
of camp-hres lights up the tents of the troops already 
encamped. 

"Say, fellers, ain't we most thar?" 

"Never you mind, Johnny, my son. Jest you 'tend to 
business, an' keep a-puttin' one foot afore the other." 

"Ah, yah! Thankee fer nothin', Jeff Cobb. I've been 
a-doin' that so long I'm tired of it. I b'lieve I'll try 
puttin' one foot behind the other for awhile." And 
Johnny turned around and walked backward until the 
man following him threatened to step on his toes. 

"Whar in thunder is our tavern? Blamed if I don't 
think we must 'a' passed it unbeknownst." 

"Nary. We'd 'a' knowed it by the smell of the beef- 
steak and fried onions they're a-gettin' ready for our sup- 
per." 

Somebody struck up "The Lord, He saw Us from on 
High," and for a while the way was lightened with the 
inspiring music. A melting snow began to fall, and the 
cheery voice of Mac rang out through the darkness: 
II 



178 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

"Secure arms! Git yer gunlocks under yer armpits, 
boys! Ye may not want 'em, but when ye do want 'em 
ye want 'em bad, and ye want 'em dry." 

A voice called out, "Who's dry in this crowd?" and 
another answered, "I be — ef ye've got anything in 
yer flask wuth drinkin'," which raised a low laugh. 

The mud was terrible, especially for Company K, which 
had to tread where the other nine companies had pre- 
ceded it. Feet floundered and slipped hither and yon. 
Shoes were loaded and invisible; trousers solid with mire 
as high as the knees, and plastered up to the waistband, 
above which coats were spattered to the collar. 

Fargeon himself started, 'Bully for you, bully for all," 
and again there was a short space of relief from tedium. 

At length they left the soft, slippery road, and halted 
in a forest of evergreens, where the foliage looked inky 
black in contrast with the snow that covered the ground 
and loaded the branches. The night was dark, moonless 
and starless; and if it had not been for the snow they 
would have had almost to feel their way. Will groaned 
in spirit as he thought of the cheer, the moonlit beauty, 
and the paved streets of Chicago, the floored and roofed 
houses, the loaded tables, and the lighted flres and 
lamps. 

"Mac, what does this mean?" 

"What does what mean. Captain?" 

"Why, this; no tents, no blankets, no food, no fire, 
no axes — no anything but cold and wet and miser}^" 

"Well, Captain, it means war; that's all." 

Will kicked the toe of one boot against the heel of 
the other, alternately, to restore circulation, and then 
mused aloud: 

"It seems incredible! Here am I, a free American cit- 
izen, unconvicted of crime, with money in my pocket. 



BOAT, BIVOUAC, AND BREAKFAST. 



179 



and yet I can't leave this — this inievnzl /ti^rgafcrj to get 
warm and buy a meal of victuals and a night's lodging, 
to save my life." 

Mac smiled grimly for a moment and then rejoined: 

"You are not a free citizen. You're a soldier; and 
you don't come out to save your life, but to spend it — 
lose it, like enough." 

However, a few axes are soon borrowed from a neigh- 
boring battery camp, 
and then how the boys 
leap and fly to the 
work! Scarcely is a 
tree felled before it 
is stripped of bark and 
branches by strong 
hands pulling, twist- ^ 
ing, tearing at every- (' 
thing that will come 
off by help of knives, 
bayonets, stones, or 
any other substitute 
for the friendly ax. 
The first flames light 
the choppers to redoubled efforts, and before midnight 
every company has its fires and its store of fuel laid by 
for all-night cheer. Even the butt ends of the burning 
logs hiss and sing almost like the comfortable tea-kettles 
of home. 

Lucky the man who finds himself at last lying upon 
two sticks of somewhere nearly equal size, which keep 
his body at least partly clear of the cold snow; his wet 
feet toward a fire, his musket in the hollow of his arm, 
bis cartridge-box under his head, his haversack spread on 
his stomach, and its last bits and crumbs finding their 




l8o THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K, 

way into that long-suffering organ. Those who have no 
remaining bits and crumbs will know better how to 
husband their "three-days' cooked rations" on future 
marches; not throwing away a hard-tack merely because 
it tastes moldy, or a bit of pork because it smells 
tainted. 

But he who has food is only half blessed if he have 
not also his tobacco; and he who must fast is not utterly 
forlorn if he have his tobacco. The luxurious cigar, 
the comfortable pipe, or even (boldly be it said) the 
consolatory mouthful! Call it not a "cud," or a "quid;" 
call it rather a drop of the balm of forgetfulness; a bud 
of the lotus, which, when Ulysses' fellow-voyagers tasted, 
they were cured of their homesickness. Spurn, if you 
will, the churl who has less excuse for resorting to it, but 
do not begrudge it to the cold, wet, tired, hungry, home- 
sick patriots of Company K. 

About midnight some officers pass along the line, call- 
ing: 

"Fires out! Fires out! General orders says extinguish 
all fires!" 

"What in God's name is that for?" 

"The light will draw the enemy's lire." 

"Ah, yah! If we can stand it, he can." 

"Fires out, I tell you." 

"Hell fires out! Nothing out! If General Orders wants 
our fires put out let him come here and — spit on 'em." 

"What regiment is this? I'll report you!" 

"The Forty-' leventh Froze-to-death. Give General 
Orders the compliments of the Forty-' leventh Froze-to 
death, and tell him if he'll send us some tents and some- 
thing to eat we'll put out our fires." 

"Where are the officers of this regiment?" 

"No officers present, but you. We're all men out here 



BOAT, BIVOUAC, AND BREAKFAST. l8l 

in the snow; and we'll keep our fires till the tents 
come." 

"That's what I call a mutiny!" 

"Call it a matinee if you're a min'ter. Only move en 
about your business." 

"Officer of the guard! Where's the guard of this regi- 
ment?" 

"Out in front, where it belongs, you fool! Out in 
front, where you don't never go! (General laughter.) 

The vis inertia of a great line of prostrate men, half 
seen b}^ the fitful fire-light, half hidden in the dense 
darkness of overhanging foliage, was too much for the 
troublesome emissaries of authorit}'. They could not 
even say where the voice or voices came from; so they 
seemed (as in a sense they were) the voice of the regi- 
ment at large. They gave one parting threat: 

"If these fires aren't out in half an hour the provo' 
guard will come down and arrest every man that refuses 
to obey orders." 

Then they disappeared, pursued by jeering laughter. 
The fires were kept going, and the provo' guard did not 
come. 

From one o'clock to four, Capt. Fargeon slept almost 
constantly, only waking when some man, more uncomfort- 
able than the average, would gel up and throw a stick 
on the fire, rousing clouds of smoke, all alive with 
sparks, swirling toward the sky, in graceful spirals that 
died away among the tree-tops. 

At about four the first deep slumber gave way to 
anxious thoughts, and after one or two uneasy lapses 
into dreams and half-forgetfulness, he found himself 
broad awake and watching the snow-flakes which had 
again begun to fall. 

With yawns and str&tchings he rose from his rigid 



1 82 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

couch and moved his stiffened joints, feeling so purpose- 
less and spiritless that he wished he could longer have 
remained oblivious to his painful environments. But the 
sight of the well-known figures of his own beloved Com- 
pany K men put from his mind all thought of self, and 
awakened in him a full, keen sense of his responsibili- 
ties. He tramped along the irregular line till he came to 
the beginning of Company I's men; and then he turned 
back, hunting for McClintock, his guide, philosopher and 
friend, his ever-present help in time of need. At length 
he saw the calm, bronzed face that was always restful 
to his eyes. Mac was sharing the blanket of two sol- 
diers, each of whom had evidently been so anxious to ac- 
commodate the great lieutenant that they had gradually 
robbed themselves of their precious shelter for his 
benefit. 

Mac was sound asleep. His strong chest rose and fell 
in slow, rhythmic motion, undisturbed by the slight 
crackling of the fire, the hissing of the end-logs, and the 
loud chorus of snores that rose into the still air from the 
recumbent groups. Will was loth to rouse him, and 
stood for a long time with his back to the blaze, enjoy- 
ing the genial warmth and the sight and sound of rest 
and recuperation all around him. 

"Sleep, the leveler! Every one of my poor boys is 
just as happy as any other sound-asleep man on earth! 
There is nothing more beautiful — but death." 

At length Mac stirred, yawned, turned uneasily, and 
opened his eyes. 

"Good morning, Mac." 

"Good morning. Captain. Anything up?" 

"Nothing, except me. I'm thinking about the boys' 
breakfasts." 

"That's so," said the other, instantly ready for duty, 



BOAT, BIVOUAC, AND BREAKFAST. 183 

sitting up and spreading the blanket over his two com- 
panions. Then, as he arose, he added : "Of course the regi- 
mental commissary didn't get anything last night, and I 
don't know where the brigade commissary keeps himself." 

"I'd like to beg, borrow, or steal a few rations just 
now." 

"So would I. I guess I'll feel my way back to the 
artillery camp we passed. The battery boys are alwaj's 
best off. With all their guns, caissons, limbers and one- 
thing-another, they have more transportation than any- 
body else." 

"Good enough! I'll go too." 



"Halt! Who goes there?" 

"Friends. " 

"Advance one friend and give the countersign." 

"We haven't the countersign. Please call the officer 
of the guard." 

"OFFICER OF THE GUARD! POST NUMBER 
FOUR!" The officer came. 

"We are from the regiment that got in late last night, 
and we want some help — the Sixth Illinois." 

"What! the Sixth! Come along in, gentlemen! This 
is Taylor's Battery, light from Chicago, where you belong! 
What can we do for you?" 

All was lovely. There were cooked rations on hand enough 
to justify the loan of a substantial breakfast for Company 
K, and there were rested and refreshed men astir ready 
and willing to "pack" the victuals over. Our lucky friends 
walked back (after a long, blissful drink of hot, black cof- 
fee), munching hard tack and boiled salt pork that "went 
to the spot," as the phrase goes, and then amused them- 
selves by steahng along the sleeping line of Company K, 



184 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

slipping two biscuits and a bit of pork into every sleep- 
er's haversack; not forgetting the men on post, sleepy, 
tired, and grateful. 

By this time it was almost six o'clock, and, though dark, 
near enough to dawn to tell which way was east. 

Reveille was sounded by bugle at brigade headquarters, 
and by drum and fife at each regiment. The drum-and- 
fife tune (as expressed by the words the men had fitted 
to it) ran tluis: 



r-j n T I " I ,r"j r-a 



t»*4c* y la^ J»loLLe«-^ ^otvit x'^ ontl [rt k^l««^ 






t )^ " r f I r r i rj r^ ^ 

14* J ^'^ I r I '^i : 3 1 






^g^ 4»i, U^ tfvc« «?VMtU«lr UrVk^^r OWUjj^S 



The men began to squirm and 3'awn and twist and turn; 
while hoarse coughing, hawking, and other catarrhal 
sounds bore testimony to the injuries which had 
resulted from the night's exposure to cold and 
wet. The more hardy spirits gave vent to their feel- 
ings in curses or jokes, as their various dispositions in- 
spired them. Quoth Jeff Cobb : 

"Hello, Maria Jane! The baby's pulled all the clothes 
off in the night." [He added some imaginary domestic 
baby infelicities. J 

"Tell ye what, fellers, I didn't never in my hfe feel 
so old as I dew this minute." 



BOAT, BIVOUAC, AND BREAKFAST. 



i35 



"That's all right, Cy. Don't ye know the reason why? 
It's 'cause ye never was so old." 

"Ice-cream for breakfast, all except the cream part," 
cried Tolliver. 

"Oh, Lord! Darn a volunteer, anyhow, and darn any 
man who wouldn't git up in the middle of the night to 
darn a volunteer. " 

"Gabr'el, blow yer trump! I don't want this world 
to last any longer." 

"If any man names 
hot griddle-cakes, with 
butter and honey, shoot 
him on the spot." 

"Ya-as, an' if ye 
can't hit him on the 
spot, shoot him in the 
head. " 

Fargeon' s and Mac' s 
little joke soon began 
to come to its point. 

"Tom Lightner, ye 
infernal cuss, what ye 
eatin'?" 

"Oh, nothin'. I ain't 
waked up yet. I'm. 
sound asleep an' 
dreamin' I'm eatin' a bully good breakfast." 

"Why, look a-hyer! I'll swear I eat up every scrap 
last night the' was in my haversack, an' hyer's pork an' 
crackers! Seems like the Bible yarn consarnin' the Wid- 
der Cruse' s oil- jug," 

"Say, boys, feel in yer haversacks." 

"Great Scott alive!" 

"Glory hallelujerum!" 




1 86 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

"Ah! that's sweeter than a pretty gal playin' the pie- 
anner with her hands crossways. " 

The captain and lieutenant stood, coat-tails in hand 
and backs to the fire, gazing up into the tree tops in 
pretended unconsciousness of the excitement, while man 
after man made his joyful discovery and expressed his 
sentiments, until Jim Flynn exhausted the subject .and 
capped the climax of eulogy: 

"Tell ye what it is, fellers; it's better than a punch in 
the eye with a cotton umbrella!" 

"Boys!" cried Corporal Chipstone, "that's the kind of 
officers Company K's got! What ye got to say to our 
officers?" 

A wild "He-igh!" arose on all sides which attracted the 
attention of the neighboring companies; and K's men 
were proud of their superiority over the rest, whose fast 
was not broken for an hour and a half — a wear}' hour and 
a half, during which food was got from the brigade com- 
missary and cooked. 

"Where did you K men get your grub before the rest 
of us? That ain't no fair shake." 

"Oh, our company officers sat up all night makin' pine 
cones and spruce gum into good hard- tack and boiled 
salt pork. That ain't no trick at all when you once get 
the hang of it! If we'd a-slep' an hour longer they'd 
have finished it up into fricasseed chicken an' punkin 
pie; but we tol' em we wouldn't wait — we'd take it in 
pork an' crackers." 

"Never mind ! We'll ketch K in a tight place some day. " 

"Hope so — water-tight, anyhow." 

Company K took its share of the nine o'clock breakfast, 
but stored most of it in haversacks, having largely sat- 
isfied nature's immediate cravings three hours earlier. 
At about eleven the drummer beat the "long roll." 



BOAT, BIVOUAC, AND BREAKFAST. I87 

"Fall in, men! Roll up your blankets and fall in!" 

The long; line was soon in place. 

"Attention, battalion! Shoulder — ARMS! By fours, 
right— FACE! By route step, forward— MARCH ! Right 
shoulder shift— ARMS! " 

Another hour and a half of marching through the sod- 
den snow brought the Sixth to its destined place beyond 
the furthest out of the troops who had preceded it. 

What next? Where's the enemy? What's before us? 
What's behind us? What's out there on our exposed 
right flank? 

God knows! A private soldier is like a blind horse in 
a quarry; a precipice on every side and a lighted blast 
under his feet: his only comfort the bit in his mouth and 
the feeling of a human hand holding the reins over his 
back. 

Was it truth, or only an ex post facto superstition 
founded on later events, that Jim Flynn and Harry 
Planter were gayer than usual — the very life of Company 
K — this morning? 



CHAPTER XV. 



THE AFFAIR ON THE RIGHT. 



ATTALION— halt!" 

"Close up, men; close up! " and the 
men, as usual, trotted forward to 
their places, alwa3^s "hunching up" 
their heav}' cartridge-belts — haver- 
sacks were unluckily very light b}'' 
this time — and there was a constant 
sound of musket barrels clashing to- 
gether as they shouldered each other 
in the snowy road. 

"Front! Right — dress! Front! 

Order — arms! Stack — arms! Rest!" 

"Looks as if we v/ere to form the 

right of the line," said Mac. 

"How do you like our position here?" said Fargeon. 

"Here? Thunder! This is no position at all — only a 

trap. It's what we call a 'flank in the air.' No cover 

and no reserve. Rebs coming in force from the right 

would have a regular picnic — double us up, one regiment 

after another, as fast as a man can walk, don't you see?" 

"Yes, I see," said Will, looking anxiously toward the 

unknown right. 

"First thing should be to deploy a company as skir- 
mishers to find what there is over there; next, put 
somebody back in support." 

"I guess I'll step over and speak to Col, Puller about it. " 

188 




THE AFFAIR ON THE RIGHT. 1 89 

"Good enough — if he were a soldier, instead of a 
politician." 

"Can't a soldier be anything else, Mac, besides?'' 

"Yes; but not a politician." 

Will smiled at Mac's well-known dislike of "politicians" 
(especially his own colonel), as he went over to quote 
r.Iac's shrewd counsel — with full credit to Mac — which 
the colonel forthwith carried to brigade headquarters and 
repeated as his ovv'n ideas. 

Within an hour the Sixth was formed "in echelon of 
companies" — each company thrown back about thirty 
paces behind its left-hand neighbor — to protect the right 
of our line; and Company K, its blankets laid aside, was 
deployed as skirmishers, and pushing out into the un- 
known wilds to seek a foe. They found a friend instead, 
in the shape of a swamp practically impassable; but the 
swamp was some half a mile away from the Sixth, and 
a road ran along its edge, at right angles with our general 
line of battle. 

Here they halted, scattered in skirmishing order, tr}'-- 
ing their best to be comfortable. Each man selected 
some tree or stump, and cleared away the snow behind 
it to leave him a spot wherein to sit, stand, or lie, or 
stamp about for warmth and a pretense of drying his 
soaked and usually ragged shoes. 

"Unless old Simon Bolivar Buckner is a fool, he will 
try a flanking movement by this road," said Mac. 

"Where did he learn soldiering?" 

"He's a West Pointer, too; and was with us in Mex- 
ico. " 

"How will he go to work if he concludes to try it on?" 

"March right down this road, by the flank, 'left in 
front,' until he meets some force that persuades him to 
deploy." 



I go 



THE CAPTAIN OF COiMPANY K. 



"That'll be Company K, as skirmishers, won't it?" 

"That's what's the matter." 

"And if Company K weren't here — what then?" 

"Oh, then Boliver 'd have a picnic; get down abreast 
of our 'flank in the air,' right face into line of battle, 
and double us up in spite of thunder." 

"But we're here, Mac." 

"You bet we're here!" 

"I hope he won't come." 

"Oh, we won't really fight him after he forms line 
of battle. While he 
marches by the flank, 
we'll face him. When 
he gets deployed, our 
business is to light 
out." 

"Mac, I guess I'll 
send word to the colo- 
nel, to tell him what 
we've found out." 

"Oh— well— but it's 
his business to send or 
come to us for the 
news." 

"Likely he doesn't 
know enough. Any- 
how, he'll be pleased with the attention." 

"He'll never be pleased with anything we do." 

"Why? Jealous of you, you war-worn old regular army 
veteran?" 

"No; though he may possibly guess what I think of 
hitn. No; the trouble is the praise the Chicago papers 
gave Company K for the two Grand Hill skirmishes — 
leaving him out in the cold." 




THE AFFAIR ON THE RIGHT. igi 

"Oh, he's forgotten that long ago." 

"Forgotten it? Capt'n Fargeon, you just wait and see 
how much of it he's forgotten." 

So Will wrote a few lines to tell Colonel Puller the state 
of things, and dispatched them to headquarters. He be- 
gan to hope tliere would be no fight that day. It was 
getting well on into the afternoon. Oh, if the day 
might end in quiet! Some men arrived from the regi- 
mental commissary v/iih K's share of the noon rations. 
They v/ere received with the customary "Heigh! heigh!" 
which changed to jibes and jeers when the food was 
found to be uncooked. 

"They think we're maggots and can live on raw pork." 

Then he watched the efforts of Mark Looney to start 
a fire. It seemed as if the chilly dampness had infected 
every particle of matter in the whole region. "Dry leaves" 
were soaking wet. Match after match was fruitlesslv tried. 

"Have you plenty of matches, Mark?" 

"Yis, Caftain. I'd a box av'em this morrnin'." 

"Take care of them! They're precious." 

"The' are that, sorr!" 

Finall}' Mac 1 ent a hand. He lighted his pipe and puffed 
it into a fine glow, then inverted it over a promising mass 
of splinters, and they, tenderly nursed by Mark's breath, 
at last consented to blaze. While the fluttering baby 
flame was growing by the addition of the least refractory 
stuff they could find, Mark cut and slashed the great slabs 
of pork into rashers (rations?), and many jack-knives 
made ready many long twigs whereon the meat was soon 
sizzling, spreading around the most delicious, appetizing 
odor a soldier's nostrils can inhale. 

Alas! The smell was all the boys were ever to get of 
that feast; for just now Mac's soldierly instinct was 
roused to cry out; 



192 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

"Don't forget what we're here for, boj's. Remember 
the rebs!" And his cry was answered by a shot from 
the front, the bullet whistling noisily over his head. 

Instantly every man was on the alert ; even little Mark 
running to where he left his musket, and peering out 
from behind his tree, forgetting fire and food. 

"Save your fire, boys," said Mac, falling into his usual 
battle drawl, "and remember your orders. If it's a picket 
or a skirmish line, stand fast till hell freezes over. If 
it's a line of battle, give 'em one shot, slow and low, 
and then skedaddle. No running from skirmishers, and 
no standing against a line of battle. You hear me?" 

Seeing Mac walking boldly over to his post on the left, 
Will left a friendly tree from which he had been peeping 
(like the privates), and made his way, hurrying and stoop- 
ing, but with reasonable coolness, over to his place on 
the right. 

Bang! bang! bang! went the guns of his men near the 
road, the very point he was making for. A dozen an- 
swering reports came from the front, accompanied by the 
sound of flying bullets, one of which seemed to have been 
aimed at himself. 

"What is it, Tom?" j 

Tom went on reloading as he answered: 

"Looked like a picket guard, Captain — just a squad in 
the road. One man got hit, and they picked him up and 
started back." 

A dead silence follows this, and Fargeon looks at his 
watch. Four o'clock. It will be dark in less than an 
hour — all may yet "blow over." 

No. Before 4: 15 a rattling fire made itself heard from 
our own line, far on K's left. It was rapid and simul- 
taneous, and indicated that the enemy was upon them in 
foice — no mere skirmish line. Scarcely had this died 



THE AFFAIR ON THE RIGHT. I93 

away when a roar of confederate musketry from K's 
front set all doubts at rest. It was certainly a regimen- 
tal volley. Almost immediately the men at his end of 
the line caught glimpses that drew their fire, and they 
were answered by another volley, fired by a full regiment 
apparently, }'et harmless. 

"Back men! Back! Double-quick!" 

They needed no second order. 

Here a dreadful thing happened. The rear companies 
of the Sixth (in echelon) opened fire, and, careful not to 
fire on each other, aimed too far to the right and sent a 
good part of their bullets into the left wing of Company 
K. Curses filled the air, and Mac and his men, thus 
taken between two fires, came running from the left over 
to Will's quarter, whence all, in a confused mob, made 
for the rear, or the swamp, or any place where they 
should not be slaughtered by both friend and foe. 

"Anybody hurt, Maci' 

"Jim Flynn killed and Harry Planter wounded." 

"Where's Harry?" 

"The rebs have got him by this time." 

"Good God!" 

The persistent rattle of musketry and frequent roar of 
artillery indicated strong fighting along the front of the 
Union line, and the increasing distance of the sounds made 
it appear that the enemy was gaining some ground. 
Time passed and with darkness the cruel noise died 
away. 

Company K was scattered widely through the swamp, 
without any semblance of order, each man hiding or try- 
ing to get farther into the underbrush. Will and Mac 
were squatting, concealed in a spot whence they had seen 
the enemy in considerable numbers passing down the road, 
and none seemed to return. They would have lain down, 
U 



194 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

but the standing water was over shoe-top and level with 
the snow. When the enemy had passed them and night 
was near, they were startled by a noise behind them, and 
Mac hurriedly drew his pistol and cocked it. 

"Liftin'nt, wud ye kindly lind me a hand?" 

It was Mark Looney who approached, dragging his 
piece with his right hand, while his left was buried in 
his breast. 

"It's in me lift arrum, liftin'nt. It seems to be blay- 
din' bad, an' I'd like to jist git a bit o' stuff 'round it." 
As he lowered his arm the fresh blood trickled from 
his sleeve. 

In the gathering darkness they ministered as well as 
they could to the poor fellow's needs, while, in spite of 
himself, his teeth chattered and every limb shook with 
pain, cold and exhaustion. The blood persisted in drip, 
drip, dripping, as if an artery had been cut. 

"Mac, this poor boy' 11 die in the water and snow. 
What shall we do?" 

"The road's our only chance. Let's risk it; the 
enemy is off now for a while at any rate." 

"Good enough! Can you walk, Mark?" 

"I'll thry, sorr. " And he did try, still dragging his 
musket, until Fargeon insisted on taking it from him. 

"Now, Captain," said Mac, "give me the gun, and you 
and Mark stay back, while I push on toward the rear. 
I'll whistle and keep whistling all the while, unless I 
hear or see something. When you don't hear me whistle, 
you get out of the road." 

Mac started off, and Will helped Mark along as best 
he could, the wounded man's hard breathing growing 
shorter and harder in a manner that showed that this 
march of his would be a short one — perhaps his last. 

They soon lost the sound of Mac's whistle, and shrank 



THE AFFAIR ON THE RIGHT. 1 95 

into a fence-corner to wait for the foe. None came, and 
they concluded that Mac had overestimated their speed 
and simply walked out of hearing. It was now almost 
dark; still, they could hardly spend the night there, so 
they began to stagger slowly down the road once more, 
and accomplished perhaps another quarter mile before 
Mark gave up entirely. 

"Thankin' ye kindly, Caftain, for all your goodness — 
I've got to give it uf. Ye' 11 fush on, av ye flaze; and, 
caftain, dayr, there's wan or two things in me focket I 
always kef ready for whin me time kem. The d'rec- 
tions is wrote on 'em — ye' 11 see when ye get to a light." 

"Why, Mark, do you think I'd leave you?" 

"Oah, yis, Caftain, it wouldn't be right fer ye to be 
took fris'ner along wid me — an' it'd be no good, nayther. 
Noa, it wud not." 

"Now, Mark, I'll never desert you while I live; and as 
to being taken prisoners, I'd rather see you and me 
alive in the enemy's hands than dead out of them. So 
I am going to light a fire, hit or miss, rebels or no rebels, 
capture or no capture, sink or swim, live or die, survive 
or perish; here goes for a fire." 

The darkness was now impenetrable, but he scraped 
away the wet snow, as well as he could, from a sheltered 
nook, while Mark, with his single hand, tried feebly to 
get together some moderately dry fence splinters, and 
picked up a few dead leaves and rubbed them on his 
clothes. 

"Well, my boy, those feel pretty dry. Now, where are 
your matches?" 

"In me focket, Caftain." 

"Why — your pocket feels wet. And the match-box 
feels wet." 

"I didn't lay down on that side," wailed the sufferer, 



igd THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

who had taken heart of grace at the prospect of a little 
warmth and light. "Could me wownd have bled onto 
'em? Oah, I'm afrehd — I'm afrehd soa." 

"I pray God they'll light!" 

"Ah-min! " 

Will rubbed a patch of fence-rail fiercely with his 
sleeve to dry it, selected a match and carefully scraped 
it. No light. But that might be an accident. Another 
careful scrape — no doubt now but that the chemicals had 
crumbled off unlighted; he could feel them in his fingers. 
Another match he tries in the same way, with the 
same result, while Mark grows sick and sicker with 
apprehension. 

"Thry two to wanst, Caftain, " he whispered, vainly 
trying to steady his voice. 

No result. 

"I guess I'll try one on the inside of my coat, as men 
light their pipes in the wind." 

Vain again, and vain when he tried a dozen in similar 
fashion. 

"You haven't another box, have you, Mark?" 

"Nary a wan at all, Caftain, but the wan." 

"Now, Mark, you take these three matches and try 
them together on the inside of my cap, while I hold it 
solid with both hands." 

"The* moight burrn yer caf, sorr!" 

"I hope they will — then we'll have a fire sure enough." 

Mark's trembling fingers only made the same desperate 
effort that so often failed before, and it failed again. 

"Av I had me ould musket now — I'd jest break a cat- 
tridge — an' lave in a little powdher an' thewaddin' — an' 
shoot 'em into some laves — an' the'd burrn — the' wud — 
Ochone the' wud — oah the' wud!" [For once Mark's 
plaintive diminuendo was appropriate to the occasion.] 



THE AFFAIR ON THE RIGHT. I97 

"Now," said Will, "I think I'll save the rest of the 
matches and dry them before we risk another trial." 

He said it in as cheerful and hopeful a tone as he 
could command — even unconsciously forcing a false smile 
in the darkness — all to keep his suffering friend from 
knowing that there were no more. Those three were 
the last. The soldier's life-blood had destroyed the 
means of saving his life. Mark must have suspected 
that the matches were gone, for he murmured in a broken 
voice "Ochone — Ochone." 

Then Fargeon laid Mark down on his well arm, lay 
down behind him, and embraced his shivering form, 
"snuggling spoon-fashion," as the children phrase it. 
His right arm was under Mark's head; his left strove to 
make one coat cover them both. As to their soaked and 
benumbed feet, they were past praying for. 

"Caftain, dayr, " said the thin voice, grown perceptibly 
weaker even since it spoke last, "d'ye think it's much 
afther midnight by this?" 

"Oh, a long time!" ("God forgive me — it's not nine 
yet.") 

Will thought the sufferer's weakness had brought on 
hiccoughs, but soon knew that these were half-suppressed 
sobs that he heard and felt. When he could disguise 
them no longer, Mark burst out: 

"Caftain, dayr — ye'll not tell the byes that I got kilt 
with a dommed scratch afther all, comin' from our own 
min — an' died a-cryin' loike a ba-aby!" 

"Never! I'll tell them you got your wound like a sol- 
dier and bore it like a man, and got well and wore shoul- 
der-straps, like a hero — as you deserve!" 

He beat the poor benumbed bod}' and limbs and hugged 
the frowsy head; his own spirits rising in this congenial 
life-saving task — rising in direct proportion to the 



198 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

demands making on them. He could have been gay and 
happy if it weren't for his feet. 

The hours of that night ought, perhaps, to be dis- 
missed without a word; for a chapter or a volume could 
not depict its length and its misery. 

Nature sets a kindly limit to distress, by the interposi- 
tion of a barrier of insensibility, which says to pain, 
"Thus far shalt thou go and no further; " and this mercy 
soon came to Mark's relief and he ceased to suffer, 
though not to moan "Ochone" and shiver. But Fargeon 
remained conscious of his wretchedness. A text came 
to his mind: "In my Father's house is enough and to 
spare, while I perish with hunger." 

A scene rose in his memory; a vision of the warm fire- 
side of Mrs. Penrose's comfortable dining-room; a fire 
in the grate; whole boxes of matches on the mantel; a 
bright light shining on Sara's face and on a well-spread 
tea-table redolent with good things to eat and drink — all 
warm! warm! His nostrils expanded to inhale the aroma 
of tea, the comforter, only to find themselves filled by 
the smell of cold, stale tobacco smoke and other squalid 
things hanging about poor Mark's hair and clothes. 



CHAPTER XVI. 



GRANT TO THE RESCUE. 




LL night long, at stated intervals, the 
long, low thunderous groan of a gun- 
boat cannon came to Will's ears 
from the distant river. It was almost 
a comfort — a sign of life in the midst 
of awful loneliness and desolation. 

After midnight the stars came out 
and the cold grew more bitter. While 
Will was trying to accustom himself to an endless dark- 
ness and a limitless suffering, three figures might have 
been seen creeping cautiously along the edge of the road, 
peering sharply into it and into the neighboring shadows. 
Two carried swords and one a musket. One of the 
sword-bearers was whistling low and constantly — 

"I wonder why all saints don't sing." 
the tune Mac had whistled when he left them last night. 
"Oh, Mac! God bless you, Mac! Is that you?" 
"Great God, Captain! You here? And alive and able 
to speak to me?" 

McClintock, Morphy, and Chipstone were the angels of 
succor. But how inadequate are words to do more than 
dimly suggest the flood of feeling that surged up in their 
breasts at this meeting! All were visibly moved; even 
imperturbable Mac showed emotion. All — that is, except 
poor Mark. He was long past joy or pain. Uncon- 
sciousness had dropped the curtain between his nerves 

109 



200 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

and their torturers, and if help had not come it is doubt- 
ful if he would ever have felt another pang. Tenderly 
they disengaged Will from the inanimate Mark, scarcely 
more helpless than his captain. Joining hands, the two 
lieutenants raised the little hero between them in the 
fashion so familiar to soldiers. Corporal Chipstone took 
his musket on his left shoulder, passed his right arm 
around Will, and helped him forward until circulation 
was somewhat restored, so that he could readily keep 
pace with the rest. 

A fire! A blessed fire! A heavenly warmth — to save 
life and restore benumbed flesh and blood, and bone, 
and nerve, and brain! How he coughs and sputters the 
smoke, as he hugs the blaze, and his clothes give off 
clouds of vapor! No need to offer food; no use to ask 
questions; no need to talk — nothing but sweet, holy, heav- 
enly warmth now for a long, long tin-je; to be drunk in 
at every pore, with eyes closed in utter comfort; a whiff 
or two from the pipe, warm and moist from Mac's lips 
— and, at last, slumber — even dear, balmy, blessed sleep 
— steals over the senses, and begins the repair of the 
most ragged and frayed edges of the sufferer's being. 

Yes, it is not another of those false, deceitful dreams. 
It is a real fire that salutes Will's reopening eyes. Now 
they may give him a toasted bit of biscuit and talk to 
him slowly and distinctly, asking no questions yet. So 
Mac tells of his walking and whistling, and his turning 
back and searching in dismay for the hidden comrades; 
going on and on until he was challenged by a confeder- 
ate sentinel; then his return and building a fire, divided 
between hope that they had got over to their friends, and 
fear that they had been taken by their foes; then the 
final effort which had brought the joyful rescue. 

Will raised himself sufficiently to look across and see 



GRANT TO THE RESCUE. 201 

that Chipstone was holding Mark's head in his arms, 
while his shoes were steaming beautifully in the warmth 
of the fire. 

"Is he alive?" 

"Yes," said wide-awake Morphy. "He spoke awhile 
ago — asked where you were, and then dropped off again 
with that same little smile you see on his face yet — if 
you call Mark's smile a smile." 



Will a match ever again seem to Will like a simple 
stick of wood and chemicals? Never! It will always 
be a "Mark Looney, " a humble little red-headed soldier, 
ready to try to do its duty and perish in the doing. 

"What's that light over there, Morphy?" 

"Daybreak, by God!" 

"That's so!" cried Mac, starting up from a doze. 
"Come, boys, let's get over toward the regiment." 

"Hadn't you better go on ahead, Mac, and see that 
Company K gets into shape and gets something to eat? 
I guess most of them have got in." 

"Oh, Captain — s'pose you send Barney to do that. 
I'd rather not leave you and Mark," 

So Morphy left them, and they roused Mark sufificiently 
to get him to eat a bit of biscuit, toasted, and soaked 
with snow-water into softness. 

Will rose with difficulty, and left the blessed fire with 
regret, a long, strong shudder seizing on him as he 
faced the morning breeze. He thought the motion 
made him feel colder than ever! Mac and Chip gripped 
hands to pass under Mark's knees and gripped elbows 
to support his chest under his arms. 

At the end of a mile or so of difficult walking, they 
came upon a pleasant scene — Col. Puller and-the regiment- 
al staff gathered near a fire (a full half-mile to the rear 



202 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K, 

of yesterday's line), and preparing for a breakfast al 
fresco, from which repast a refreshing odor of coffee 
and fried pork saluted their eager senses. They laid 
Mark tenderly down, and stretched and rubbed their 
stiffened arms. 

"Good morning, Colonel." 

"Good morning, sir." 

"We began to think we should never see a friendly 
face again, or smell that delicious odor of Christian food." 

"Where is your company, Capt'n Fargeon, and why are 
you not with it — you and Lieutenant McClintock. !" 

"Company K was scattered and driven far to the right 
by the fire of the enemy in front, and — I am sorry to say 
it, Colonel — by the fire of your own command in our rear." 

"I learned from one of your own men — the same man 
by whom you sent me a very curt and incomplete report 
in the afternoon — that your company retired in disorder 
before the enemy. And now, after a large part of it has 
straggled into my regiment, jj'^/^ appear; you and your first 
lieutenant bring up the extreme rear — with a cock-and- 
bull story of having been fired on by your own regiment." 

Will stood dumfounded by this assault. 

"Lieut. McClintock, have yon anything to say in expla- 
nation of this state of things?" 

The lieutenant silently shook his head. 

"Both you gentlemen will go to 3'our quarters in ar- 
rest." 

"What!" cried Will 

"I presume you understand English, Capt'n Fargeon, 
and that you know your duty under present circum- 
stances." 

With an unmoved face and undisturbed voice Mac 
said: 

"You will not object, Colonel, to our carrying Private 



GRANT TO THE RESCUE. 2O3 

Looney to brigade hospital before our arrest takes effect? " 

Puller turned to consult his adjutant — his monitor in 
all matters — and then said: 

"1 have no objection to your caring for Private What' s- 
his-name or any other private business; but you may re- 
move your swords before doing so." Then, turning to 
Chipstone: "Take the swords and report at your com- 
pany at once." 

Silently the captain and lieutenant took off their swords 
and handed them to Chipstone. Then they raised un- 
conscious Mark once more and resumed their toilsome, 
labored march in the direction of the hospital. When 
they were out of hearing, Mac said quietly: 

"Now, what do you think about Col. Puller's memory. 
Captain?" But Fargeon walked on as if he heard not. 

At length they saw before them a large hospital tent. 
They walked up toward the open door, where sat a 
short, dark man in plain clothes and a slouch hat, smoking 
a cigar. Mac began: 

"I beg your pardon, sir — why. Captain — General 
Grant!" and he stopped. 

"Good morning, sir. Are you looking for me?" 

"No, General, we are looking for the hospital. This is 
Capt. Fargeon, of the Sixth Illinois. I am Lieutenant 
McClintock, of the same regiment." 

"Ah, McClintock. Yes, yes, Mexico; I thought I knew 
you. I am glad to see you. Lieutenant, and to know you 
are again in the service." 

"General, this is Mark Looney, whom you may recol- 
lect." 

"Very well, indeed; very well, indeed. Is Mark badly 
hurt? " 

"Severely, not dangerously — only he has been freezing 
and starving all night. We were picketing on the ex- 



204 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

treme right and were driven out by the fire of our own 
men behind us." 

"Ord'ly, is there any of that coffee left? Bring three 
mugs of it for these gentlemen." He stepped up to 
where they had laid down Mark. "Mark, do you remem- 
ber your old lieutenant, Grant?" 

Mark nodded and smiled slightly, but did not try to 
speak. 

"Ord'ly, give Dr. Hardy my compliments, and ask him 
for a stretcher; then get three more men and carry this 
man to the hospital." 

They dipped a bit of biscuit in the coffee and placed 
it in Mark's mouth, while they blew and sipped their 
own beverage in luxurious refreshment. 

"I haven't heard any intelligent account of the affair 
on our right. How came you there, and what occurred?" 

Will gave a short, lucid statement of the events we 
have narrated, beginning with giving Mac full credit 
for the suggestion which led to their being pushed out, 
and ending with the disaster they had met with. He 
did not say that they had rendered any especial service, 
but felt that the older soldier must see that such was 
manifestly the case. Grant smoked and listened in utter 
silence; not even an occasional grunt of recognition in- 
dicating that he saw the whole scene as it had occurred. 

"Where are your swords?" 

"As we passed regimental headquarters. Colonel Puller, 
for reasons best known to himself, placed us both in 
arrest." 

"And had you give him your swords?" 

"Not exactly; only send them to our quarters, while 
we looked out for Mark." 

[Puff, puff.] "Well, gentlemen, you know the duty 
of officers in arrest." 



GRANT TO THE RESCUE. 205 

"Yes, General; we are on our way to our quarters." 

"Good day, gentlemen!" 

"Good day, General." 

They departed — but we will remain. 

"Ord'ly, give Colonel Puller, of the Sixth Illinois, my 
compliments, and say that I would like to see him at 
twelve o'clock." 

Then the general strolled over to the hospital and had 
a talk with Mark, now cared for and comfortable. 

Colonel Puller arrived, punctuallyto the moment, in full 
regimentals, with sword, sash, and spurs, much excited 
and pleased by the summons, and primed with a glowing 
account of his own services of the previous day. He 
shook hands with the silent, sphinx-like figure sitting on 
the camp-stool (smoking as usual), and observed that 
he was glad to see General Grant looking so well. 

"Colonel, in advance of regular reports [puff, puff], I 
should like you to give mean account of the affair of last 
night." 

"Well, General, I am glad to be able to give you one." 

[We must abbreviate.] The colonel had observed that 
our flank was unprotected, and, with the consent of his 
brigade commander, threw his regiment into echelon of 
companies, and deployed a company as skirmishers to give 
warning of any threatened attack. About four o'clock the 
skirmishers were driven in with some loss, and then the 
enemy made a most furious and premeditated attack 
upon that part of the line. P'or over an hour we with- 
stood the onslaught of vastly superior numbers, repelling 
one assault after another in the most determined man- 
ner, completely decimating their ranks, while our own 
losses, though considerable, were small by comparison. 
Finally the enemy retired in confusion, almost deci- 
mated. Darkness prevented the pursuit which the colonel 



206 THE CAPTAIN OP COMPANY K. 

had planned, not only to order, but to lead in person. 

[Puff, puff.] "What kind of country did you find on 
your right?" 

The colonel had found a road bordered on the far side 
by a swamp. 

"Did you go out to see what your reconnoissance had 
developed?" The colonel did not. 

"Did you send?" No; the commander of the skirmish 
company had reported very fully. 

[Puff, puff.] "Did the enemy use the road in an effort 
to take us by surprise?" The colonel thought that they 
had marched nearly their whole force to that point with 
that purpose. 

"What prevented them from succeeding — as the troops 
that were to fill the gap failed to reach there?" The 
fire of the skirmishers, which the colonel had placed 
there for that very purpose, succeeded by the fire of his 
echelon companies, and, later, by the other regiments of 
the brigade. 

"The skirmishers did well, then?" Up to that point, 
admirably, in accordance with the colonel's orders. But 
later, when seriously attacked, they fled in confusion. 

"The skirmish line retired before the attack of a line 
of battle?" The colonel regretted to say that they did. 

[Puff, puff.] "When did you learn this?" The colonel 
was apprised as soon as it transpired. 

"Before the engagement began?" At the very begin- 
ning of it. 

"From whom?" From a member of the skirmishing 
company. 

"The first man of them to report?" The very first. 
The colonel had felt obliged to place in arrest the cap- 
tain and first lieutenant. 

[Puff, puff.] "Did you so direct the fire of your right 



'Ik ■ Vt 




"My remarks are not drifting, Colonel." — Page 208. 



207 



208 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

flank company as not to injure your own skirmishers?" 
The colonel had trusted to their own judgment for that. 

"Did you tell them where you had placed your skir- 
mishers? Did you give any orders or take any steps to 
avoid shooting your own men?" The colonel could not 
quite follow the drift of General Grant's remarks, 

[Puff, puff.] "Myremarks are not drifting, Colonel Pul- 
ler. You seem to have sent out a company of skirmish- 
ers to reconnoiter, and not to have gone or sent to learn 
what they found out; then to have left your line of bat- 
tle uninstructed as to their duty regarding those skir 
mishers, wherefrom disaster resulted to them; then to 
have placed two deserving officers under arrest upon the 
unsupported statement of one skulker." 

The silence that followed this was marked — almost 
obtrusive. The quiet veteran smoked on unmoved. 

"Have you anything further to add, sir?" 

The unhappy colonel choked and gasped for breath, 
but was speechless. 

"Mr. Badger, one moment, if you please. Be kind 
enough to write a general order" [Puff puff]. "'Captain 
Fargeon and Lieutenant McClintock, of the Sixth Illi- 
nois Volunteer Infantry, having rendered distinguished 
service in the affair of yesterday, and having been unad- 
visedly placed in arrest by the colonel of their regiment, 
are released from arrest and restored to duty.' Have 
that repeated and sent out at once — or stay. ColonelPuUer 
should you think proper to demand a court of inquiry on 
your part in this matter, I will readily grant your request 
and make it part of the same order." 

"Ge — General Grant — I beg for time to talk with my 
brother officers." 

"Very well, sir. Good morning, sir. Send out the 
order, Mr. Badger." 



GRANT TO THE RESCUE. 20g 

The Sixth, still shelterless, had been provided with 
axes during the day, and was now building for itself a 
long, double line of "brush-houses," made of boughs sup- 
ported on poles held up by crotched sticks— a poor camp 
but better than none; far better, even in case of rain. 
In front of one of these hovels, at a good fire (for it 
seemed as if they would nevermore be tired of warming 
themselves), sat Fargeon and McClintock, brooding over 
the coals and their own wrongs. 

To them arrived Colonel Puller in trembling haste. 

"Captain! and Lieutenant!" (extending a hand to each 
which they failed to notice). "You'll be glad to hear (but 
not half so glad as I am to say it) that I find that I was 
entirely misinformed regarding your share in last night's 
action! — entirely! I ought to have thanked you instead 
of — doing what I did." 

They were as unresponsive as Grant himself. 

"Now, I want you to regard those few words as unsaid 
— forget them as if they had never been said. You are 
relieved from arrest and restored to duty." 

After a pause, Mac spoke: 

"Thank you, ColonelPuUer. I believe we prefer to de- 
mand a court of inquiry." 

"Oh, Lieutenant — oh, Capt'n Fargeon — don't, I beg and 
pray, dori' t ruin me! What will be said at home? Where 
would it place me in the eyes of my congressional dis- 
trict — all for a hasty word or two?" 

"Unpremeditated was it. Colonel Puller! " 

"Premeditated! My dear lieutenant, what can you 
mean?" 

The colonel laughed uneasily, while an added flush 
showed that the shot had not missed. 

No, the gentlemen did not care to smoke. And they 
would prefer not to dine with the colonel's mess, under 
H 



2IO THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

the circumstances. Besides, Captain Fargeon could hardly 
stand on his feet. Yes, he should be glad of a call from 
the regimental surgeon. 

"To tell you the truth, gentlemen, I have had a little 
talk with General Grant — a very nice talk on the whole 
— and he has consented to issue a general order speaking 
highly of you, and relieving 370U from arrest." 

The others straightened up in their seats, leaned for- 
ward, stretched out their arms and shook hands — with 
each other. 

"Now, gentlemen — Lieutenant, you know I am not up in 
military verbiage as you are — I suppose you can't per- 
sist in 5'our own arrest after being relieved in general 
orders." 

"Well, Colonel Puller, we are not officially apprised of 
our relief until the general order has been read aloud 
before every regiment at dress-parade." 

The colonel departed, very downcast, and forthwith 
made his own headquarters a little purgatory, and his 
adjutant temporarily sorry he had ever been born. But 
the adjutant (who privately hated his colonel) got fully 
even with him at dress-parade that very afternoon, as the 
next chapter will show. 



CHAPTER XVII. 



THE FORLORN HOPE. 



IT is not difficult to imagine the deep indig- 
nation the men of Company K felt when 
they learned of the vile treatment meted 
out to their officers. There were symptoms 
of a roaring row when Will and Mac de- 
jectedly approached the laboring com- 
pany. Wild cheers greeted them, fol- 
lowed by resounding groans unmistakably 
meant for the objectionable colonel. By 
great effort the arrested officers calmed 
the tumult, and got the men to give to 
poor, unoffending Morphy the obedience 
-/^li rW ^^ ^^^ '^ right to as the commanding 

"^Jy IS^ officer, and deserved as a good one and 

a good fellow. 

Four o'clock p. m. arrived, and with it 
dress-parade, and with dress-parade the 
reading out of general orders. Now came 
the adjutant's revenge. He read out the 
expiatory order so that nearly everybody 
could hear it; then paused for the cheers 
which he knew would follow. Follow they did, beginning 
with Company K, and spreading until the whole regi- 
ment had take them up; Company A, which had com- 
mitted the cruel blunder while in echelon the day before, 

211 




212 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

showing special anxiety to make themselves once more 
"solid with K. " 

"Colonel," whispered the adjutant, "it would now be 
proper to send for the captain and lieutenant before pro- 
ceeding with the parade." 

Colonel Y. R. Puller's Curses, "not loudbut deep," must 
be omitted. Fargeon and McClintock were summoned 
and arrived, the captain leaning heavily on his lieutenant 
and on a stout stick. Yet both men looked handsome, 
dignified, and business-like as they were led up to the 
colonel, who shook their hands with misplaced effusion 
while the cheers were renewed, K going quite wild when 
they rejoined its ranks, the men tossing their caps and 
catching them on bayonet-points in a general scramble. 

Puller, as colonel of the Sixth, was essentially "done 
for." Still he floundered and struggled a good deal. At 
the headquarters mess that evening he tried the force of 
eloquence. 

"Fellow-comrades, the more I think of the way we've 
been tampered with by General Grant, the more I don't 
like it. How are we to maintain any espi'itt dee corpse in 
our regiment if our best efforts are to be prostituted by 
having such a stamina put upon them?" 

His staff did not know. 

"I would suggest," said the lieutenant-colonel, "that 
you either resign or ask for a court of inquiry." [The 
lieutenant-colonel was wild to get command of the regi- 
ment.] 

"Yes," said the major, "that might give Gen. Grant a 
lesson." [The major wanted to be lieutenant-colonel.] 

"And if Grant were out of the way, you ought to get a 
brigade," put in the adjutant. [He also longed for a 
step in rank.] 

"Well, fellow-comrades, " answered the colonel, who 



THE FORLORN HOPE. 213 

fully appreciated the feelings animating his subordinates, 
"I'll think it over. It might, as you say, give General 
Grant a lesson regarding such high-minded outrages 
attempting to be put upon volunteer officers by regular 
officers. I should not be surprised if the matter went 
to Washington. If the government declines to take it 
up, Congress could very likely be induced to do so. I 
know one thing, and that is, that if / were in the halls 
of legislation every volunteer officer in service might be 
sure of one voice that would never bend the knee, one 
tongue that would never bow, one hand that would never 
be silent, where they needed the protection from the 
overweening, high-minded pertubation of West Point!" 

Next day a general advance is made on all parts of the 
line not already in contact with the enemy's works. The 
Sixth gets more than a mile forward, and begins a paral- 
lel; and the "flank in the air" now rests solidly on the 
river above (southward of) Fort Donelson, just as the 
other flank rests solidly on the same river below (north- 
ward of) the fort. A semi-circle of converging fire is 
narrowing about the doomed foe. A confederate battery 
low down on the river-bank makes sad work with the 
gun-boats, but still they keep "pegging away," and com- 
mand the river sufficiently to make the escape of any 
considerable body impossible; though the confederate 
Gen. Floyd and a few more do get across, leaving Gen. 
Buckner to bear alone the burden of defeat and ruin. 

Will moves with his company, or at least not far away 
from it, though his legs and feet are very stiff and 
painful. 

In the advance of the command they find the body of 
poor Jim Flynn, stripped to his very socks. They bury 
the hapless martyr; and the burial party, by Mac's 
orders, refuse to say whether the fatal bullet came to 



214 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

him from the front or rear. Harry Planter has disap- 
peared as utterly as the pork and coffee — and Company 
K's blankets. 

No lack of news along the line on Saturday, February 
15, 1862. A flag has come in from Gen. Buckner, bearing 
proposals for capitulation and asking terms. Grant has 
named "unconditional surrender," adding, "I propose to 
move at once upon your works." 

During the engagement on the right, Smith's division 
on the left had dashed in and taken a line of the enemy's 
outworks; and now the division to which our friends 
belong has been brought round and massed in that (re- 
versed) entrenchment, in grim preparation for deliver- 
ing an assault on the main works, if it shall be needful. 

Strange to say, this change in what he called "the situ- 
ation" did not make Colonel Puller any more contented 
with his lot. Even the rare privilege of leading (that 
is to say, following) his men up that deadly slope — per- 
haps underlaid with hidden percussion shells, certainly 
swept by a storm of missiles — failed to calm his spirit, 
perturbed by the official snub he had received. But just 
how to reopen the subject he did not quite see. 

His lieutenant-colonel — one Isaacs, a "politician," yet 
a brave fellow and really a fine officer, who had served 
in the state militia — saved him the trouble by leading 
up to it himself. 

"Well, Colonel, what did General Grant say?" 

"Why, Isaacs, I haven't moved in the matter — yet." 

"Now, if I were you, Colonel, I wouldn't hesitate. Go 
in boldly — heroically, I may say — throw aside all fear of 
consequences — beard the lion in his den." 

The doughty colonel tapped the table with his knife, 
considering how he could best — that is to say, most re- 
luctantly — follow the advice. 



THE rORLORN HOPE. 215 

"You know, gentlemen, that I would rather lead that 
storming party a thousand times — yes, I speak within 
bounds and mean what I say; would rather lead one 
thousand storming parties — than do what you sudgest." 

"Oh, we know all about that!" protested Isaacs, with 
only a scarcely preceptible wink at the major. Then he 
went on: 

"You know, Colonel, this may be your last chance to 
render this service to your country. A bullet in your 
body this afternoon wouldn't help the cause a mite, while 
a word spoken in season might lead to great results." 

"It will stir up a good deal of a foment. But if you 
consider it a matter of duty — " 

"Duty before pleasure, every time! Move on General 
Grant rather than on Fort Donelson. If the whole volun- 
teer force is to be made into a door-mat for the regulars 
to wipe their feet on, why, we want to know it! — that's 
all!" 

"I'll do it!" said the colonel, with fierce determina- 
tion. And he strode forth, courage and self-sacrifice ex- 
pressed in the very squeak of his boots. 

"Maje, my boy! that makes me colonel of the Sixth! 
And like enough this afternoon will make me an angel, 
and you the colonel!" 



"General Grant, on interviewing my fellow-comrades, 
I am advised that it is best to take up with your sudges- 
tion, report myself in arrest, and ask a court of inquiry 
regarding what we consider your very high-minded sub- 
vention in the discipline of my regiment." 

"Well, Colonel (puff, puff), you can have your court 
(puff, puff), but I do not insist upon your arrest meanwhile 
{puff, puff)^ You may return to your regiment (puff), 



2l6 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

and I will order the court." [An infinite succession of 
puffs.] 

"Excuse me, General, but under the stamina of your 
general order I cannot consistently appear at the head 
of my regiment." 

"Return to duty, Colonel Puller, you are not m arrest." 

"General Grant, as a protest against such a stamina as it 
has been to me to hear that order read at dress-parade, 
I would rather resign my commission than continue in 
command pending my justification." 

"Let your resignation come up through the proper 
channels, and I shall act upon it." 

The doughty colonel thought all went off pretty well; 
only once, when he repassed a tent where he had already 
called, he was disturbed by hearing loud laughter with- 
in, scarcely in keeping with the seriousness of the occa- 
sion. Then, too, his sensitive ear seemed to detect 
snorts of merriment as he passed groups of privates of 
his own Sixth Illinois Regiment, standing, sitting, crouch- 
ing, lying, or lounging in the wet, muddy, dismal, ill- 
smelling, deadly earth-work. 

"Old Wire-puller knows which side his bread is but- 
tered on. He wants to go home and not wait for any pie. " 

"I knovved Wire-puller was a politician, quick as I 
seed how his e3'es bug out." 

"He reminds me," said Tolliver, perhaps the wittiest 
man in the regiment, "of a house that's all front door — 
the minute you lift the -latch you're in the back yard." 

All laughed. In fact, all were accustomed to laugh 
whenever Tolliver spoke. As soon as they saw his right 
eyebrow mount to the roots of his hair, while his left 
drooped so that the bright glance could be but barely 
seen through its shadows, they knew "suth'n wuz a- 
comin'." 



THE FORLORN HOPE. 217 

"Ah, yah! Say, fellers, why don't we all resign?" 

"I'm only sorry for one thing, an' that is that I never 
thought to enlist as a major-general, instead of a high 
private in the front rank. Now thar's ole Grant — ain't 
it awful easy for him to assault Donelson — 'move on 
your works' — him a-holdin' down a camp-stool, away out 
of range in the rear?" 

"Oh, you dry up, Jeff Cobb! Pie's in the right place, 
and the right man in the right place too." 

"Well, Chip, I s'pose so. But do you know what I 
think when I read the papers? I think the folks at home 
are a-makin' a leetle mistake. They think he is where 
we are, and we are where he is. Now, there's him 
drawin' steenty-steen thousand a year, on a camp-stool, 
out of range; and here's me, all the same except the 
money, the camp-stool, and the range. I can find plenty 
in print about the brave and heroic Gen. Ulysses S. 
Grant, but nary a word about the brave and heroic 
Private Thomas Jefferson Cobb." 

"Don't you be scairt, Jeff. Your name' 11 be in the pa- 
pers soon enough." 

"Ya-as — but it won't be in the head-lines. Them noos- 
paper colyumes is like a coal-shute." [Jeff was a miner.] 
"The big chunks go thunderin' down on top of the screen 
whilst the little ones slip down through, 'most out of 
sight, in the lists of killed an' wounded." 

"Wal, it's all one — er will be in a hundred years." 

"Ya-as — only there' 11 be more Grants and fewer Cobbs. " 

Will got an ambulance to carry him as near to the 
earth-work as wheels could go; then a couple of men 
helped him to hobble to his post. 

"Captain, you belong in the hospital, not in the as- 
saulting column." 



2l8 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

"Yes, Mac, I suppose so. My knees and ankles do feel 
pretty queer." 

"What does the doctor say?" 

"'Inflammatory rheumatism' was the sweet little 
speech he got off when he made his examination." 

"What would he say about your spending the night in 
a trench — or even in the brush-house?" 

"Probably 'fool,' with a past participle before it." 

"Well — why don't you go along to the hospital?" 

"And give General Grant a lesson? " 

"Ha, ha! No, not exactly. Give yourself a rest." 

"We'll see when the job is done." 

And he looked, anxiously across the space they would 
have to charge over. 

He was dreadfully frightened. He could not see how 
it was possible to live through an advance across that 
rising ground and reach that horrid inner line of works 
under a plunging fire of musketry and artillery coming 
from them and from the fort itself, visible beyond them. 
True, our artillery had silenced the fire, and could si- 
lence it again whenever it broke out; but our artillery 
must be silent when the assault is made. And then — 

Why should he go? He was surely a very sick man; 
nobody on earth who knew his condition would say it 
was his duty — nobody except himself. 

If he were fearless, like Mac or Mark Looney, he 
wouldn't go. But now, afraid as he was, he tnusi. He 
dared not stay behind, for fear it should be from the 
wrong motive. 

And then his dear boy? — how could he see them leave 
him and run into that maelstrom of mortality without 
him? How could he see them go down, one by one, and 
blot the ground with dreadful little blue heaps, he not 
even knowing which men were dead and dying? And how 



THE FORLORN HOPE. 2ig 

explain to the rest of the world why his life was saved 
when the others fell? He heaved a great sigh: 

"I'll be with you, Mac, when you start, anyhow." 

"Well, Captain, I s'pose it's no use talking. But prom- 
ise me one thing; that if we don't assault to-day — and 
it begins to look as if we shouldn't — you'll go to the hos- 
pital for the night." 

Will gave a reluctant consent to this, and when it be- 
came evident that "it," would not be to-night, he let the 
ambulance carry him back to the hospital. 

"Good enough!" said Mac to Morphy. "Now ten to 
one the assault will be ordered for daybreak, and be over 
before Cap knows anything about it." 

The men were allowed to go back to their tents and 
shelters to eat and sleep. Reveille would sound at five 
(breakfast to be m.ade ready beforehand); the whole army 
being called to arms to support the assaulting division 
when it had effected a lodgment, or to receive its 
bloody fragments if it failed. The division was to be in 
the outwork at six, field and staff on foot, men in light 
marching order — no blankets, no knapsacks, no haver- 
sacks—nothing but arms, ammunition, and canteens, full 
of whisky and water if they wished it. They were raw 
soldiers, but v/ell they knew what all that meant — chosen 
victims, fatted and decked for sacrifice! 

Half the men of the Sixth were writing letters that 
night. Pens and ink, pencils and paper were borrowed 
and lent on all sides. Candles stuck in bayonet sockets 
were flaring everywhere. No guard detail was demanded. 
Nobody found any fault with anything they did. Sur- 
geons, chaplains, and other friends were burdened with 
dingy letters and little packages, to be reclaimed to-mor- 
row night or forwarded as addressed. Watches, keep- 
sakes, money, photographs — anything and everything a 



220 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

man does not care to have buried with him or stolen 
from his body by the foe — were laid out for the dear 
ones at home. God! If I wanted to magnify the pathos 
of all this, what could I say that would not belittle it? 

It seemed as if almost as soon as the camp had put on 
its night-quiet the company cooks were at work at the 
breakfast ration; and not long afterward the bugle at 
headquarters and the drums and fifes of the doomed reg- 
iments sounded the call to the opening of the dreadful 
Sunday. Then by degrees, yet rapidly, men began to 
gather around the camp-fires and prepare themselves for 
the work before them. 

"Say, fellers, what's the use of eatin' so much? Jest 
wastin' good victuals an' makin' more work for the bury- 
in' squads." 

"Oh, yes, Hiram — but I notice you don't hang back 
from the pot none to speak of! If you'd put all that 
stuff outside instead of inside, no bullet wouldn't never 
hurt ye!" 

"Well, ye see, Jeff, I'm built like a camel — got three 
stomachs; one for ornament, one for use, an' one for 
some other time." 

"Ah, yah! Th' ornamental one must be the insidest 
one of all!" 

"Oh, Lord, boys — I wish I was in dad's barn!" 

"Wha'd ye want t' be in the barn fer, Jeff?" 

"Why, ye see, 't ain't more'n twenty rods from the 
" barn to the house, 'n' I could jest run inter mammy's 
room an' hide under the bed." 

"There's the long roll! Boys, say yer prayers. Some- 
body say one fer me, so I kin go on eatin'." 

"Fall in, Company K! Fall in! Fall in!" 

"Oh, yes," cried Jeff Cobb, the irrepressible, "we'll be 
a fallin' in in about an hour's time." Then he began to 



THE FORLORN HOPE. 221 

sing in a sentimental treble, "I would I were a boy 
again." 

Jeff's voice was as unmusical as can be possibly imag- 
ined. No sooner had he begun to sing than Tolliver in- 
terrupted him. 

"Say, Jeff; half a minute, please, before you go on. 
Have you got a house of your own?" 

"Not that anybody knows of, so far as heerd from. 
Why?" 

"Why, if I were you, I'd build one — a nice brick house 
in a nice big lot." 

"Some burn of yours, Tolly? Well, my son, drive on 
about the house and lot." 

"Well, Jeff, I'd work it this way. You just go to any 
vacant spot and begin to sing. Nobody will ever try to 
serve a warrant on you." 

"You won't, Tolly, A man of your size! You won't 
try any such job on me — not while you're sober." 

"And so, Jeff, you'd have your ground, all O K, 
don't you see? Now for the bricks. All you've got to 
do is just go on singing and there'll be enough bricks 
thrown at you to build a palace!" 

Amid the chorus of laughter could be heard Jeff's 
voice, louder and more raucous than ever: 
"I would I were a boy again." 
Once more Tolliver interrupted: 

"Oh, shucks! What's the use of wouldin* ye was a 
boy? /would /were a leetle, teenty-taunty gal-baby!" 
Slowly and gropingly the regiments found their way 
in the dark to the now familiar ditch; lay down, or sat, 
or squatted, to wait for dawn and the order to advance. 
Now, past the reserves, past brigade headquarters, 
past the brush houses, past the cooks' fires, past the 
ambulances and litter-bearers waiting for their sad work. 



222 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

past the intervening space of darkness, comes a little 
procession — four men carrying, on a litter, a fifth, an 
officer In uniform with sword and sash. The men 
stopped chatting and watched with curious eyes the ad- 
vancing group. The recumbent form raises its head: 

"Is this Company K, of the Sixth Illinois?" 

It is Fargeon's voice, and a loud-answering "He-igh"is 
the response. 

"Well, Mac, I'm glad to see you." 

"Well, Captain, I'm sorry to see you — first time in 
my life, too." 

"Oh, now, Mac, you mustn't be jealous about my 
commanding K once more. You'll have a chance before 
noon, like as not.'' 

"I hope, Capt'n Fargeon, you'll command it as long as 
I'm in it — unless you get promoted and go higher." 

"That's what I look for, Mac — a big promotion that'll 
take me out of your way for good." 

They shook hands, and each could see, by the light of 
Mac' s pipe, a loving twinkle about the eyelids of the other. 

"Boys, can't you leave the litter here for me to lie on 
till we start? Yes? That's all right — there'll be work 
enough for it after I leave it. Now, Mac, let a couple 
of our men put in their time rubbing my feet and ankles 
and knees. That's right. Chip — you and Bob will do 
first-rate. There — hard — oh, ouch; no, don't stop; rub 
away like fury, no matter if I howl a little. Well, boys, 
Mark is getting on, all right. Wishes he were with 
us. Oh, Chip — that's right — oh Lordy, Lordy — but rub 
away. Looks as if it were going to be a fine day. There, 
there — you may skip the points of my ankles till some 
other day — after — to-morrow, week — after — next — oh, gee- 
whilllkins! rub underneath my knee instead of on top." 
And so on. 



THE FORLORN HOPE. 223 

"Now, boys, I'm going to try my weight on them. 
Here are my sticks under me — now raise me and let me 
get them to the ground — there — I guess I can bear my 
weight. So; now I'm all right." His dangling sword 
wobbled about his legs and his sticks as he hobbled along 
the line, nodding to the men, whom he recognized partly 
from their place in the line and partly from the wintry 
gray that began to lighten the eastern sky. 

"Say, Cap, this is an infantry regiment. We ain't 
used to marchin' alongside of quadrupeds. I'm afraid 
you'll beat us all on the charge bay-nets." 

"No, ToUiver. But then I' 11 never run away on my four 
legs when I once get there." After a few steps more he 
added : "Perhaps I'd better start now, so we'll be even by 
and by." Which humorous suggestion was well received. 

The gray grew lighter and the men began to peer into 
the unknown front, and, as usual, to make remarks. 

"Now why in thunder don't the high mukkemuks start 
us out? We'd be half-way there before the rebs could get 
the drop on us." 

"Oh, pshaw, John! I wouldn't care if they didn't start 
us for a month!" 

Some of the men talk thus lightly and bandy jests; but 
the majority are pale, stern, sad, and silent. They are 
not the ideal soldiers; machines, indifferent to death; 
fatalists with their "kismet; " pious zealots mumbling 
prayers and glorying in any sacrifice "for God and Czar. " 
They are common-sense, thrifty American citizens; 
fathers, brothers, sons, husbands; full of the hopes of 
peace and prosperity; regretfully though resolutely risking 
them all at the call of patriotic duty, with the inexpli- 
cable self-devotion of the man-at-arms. 

Mac mounts the breast-work, field-glass in hand, and 
peers long and anxiously forward. 



224 '^^'^ CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

"Mac, come down!" 

"Shortly, Captain, shortly." 

"Lieutenant, I command this company for a while yet, 
and I order you to come down, and I mean what I say." 

Mac slowly obeys, only to walk to another part of the 
mound and climb again on top of it, again peering into 
the increasing light, sweeping the field slowly from side 
to side with his glass. 

Will gives it up. 

"What do you see, Mac? If you will stick yourself 
up like a scarecrow to be shot at, you ought to find out 
something to pay us for the risk." 

"I can make out the salient, and I know the flag-staff 
is just to the left — if the gum-boots haven't shot it away. 
There; now I've fixed it — the flag is flying." 

"What did you expect — that they'd hauled it down?" 

Mac's drawl becomes more drawling than ever as he 
goes on. 



CHAPTER XVIII. 



WHAT MAC S FIELD-GLASS SHOWED. 




HE tall lieutenant in his long blue over- 
coat, both hands supporting his glass and 
both elbows level with his ears, stands 
perched on the highest point of the earth- 
work. His figure relieved against the 
gray sky in the dim light of misty dawn, 
seems of gigantic, supernatural height; 
but his voice has the same old strong, 
quiet, half-serious, half-playful drawl 
which his friends — his worshipers — have 
learned to associate with the flame and 
roar of battle; with trial and triumph 
and wounds and death. 
"Well, Mac, out with it." 
Through the dewy quiet the next 
words pierce like separate pistol-shots: 
"Ye can't — 'most always — tell — what — ye may least — 
expect — specially about — uncertain things — in this world 
— of chance — and change — the flag's — flying — audit's — a 
whi-te — fia-ag." 

"SURRENDERED!" cries the captain. 
"SURRENDERED! SURRENDERED!" shout the 
men who hear him. 

The shout becomes a roar and the roar a yell of fran- 
tic joy, triumph, relief, congratulation, thankfulness. 
/5 225 



"m 



■ilk 



226 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

Strong men, nerved to die to-day, laugh and cry and 
sob in each other's arms. 

The roar spreads back toother commands, to the head- 
quarters of the stern, stolid commander, to hospitals 
where sick and wounded take new life at the sound. It 
flies on the wings of the lightning over the great awaken- 
ing land — Chicago, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, 
Washington — cities, towns, and villages by the thousand 
take it up, and with it awaken the anxious mother and 
wife; the Wall street gold speculator; the money king; 
the hopeful, fearful, sadly smiling, burdened President. 
Fort Donelson, with all its strength and all its men, 
and all its armament and munitions of war, has fallen 
into the hands of the Union army! 

Oh, what a Sabbath day! 

Presently the nearest bands get together; and then, 
floating on the rays of sunrise, comes the grand, sweet 
air of "The Star Spangled Banner." 

"Oh, say, can you see by the dawn's early light — " 

And yet another ineradicable association is engraved 
on Will's memory. 

The national hymn is followed by 

"Hail Columbia, happy land !" 

And that by a rattling quickstep — 

"Yankee Doodle came to town." 
The gun-boats catch the news, and over the water from 
each of them comes the same succession of well-known 
tunes; not very grand in themselves, but to their hear- 
ers always nereafter soul-thrilling with the meaning they 
express. 



The troops who had stormed and taken the outwork 
before named had the distinguished honor of leading the 



WHAT mac's field-glass SHOWED. 227 

triumphal march out from our lines, crowned with spec- 
tators, past the little village of Dover at the foot of the 
bluff, through the works that seamed the hill-side; 
through the tall grim fort itself, and into the enemy's 
camp beyond. But the Sixth came next, and excited 
much remark in tlie long, crowded line of friendly spec- 
tators that blackened the Union earth-works; not more 
by the proud hgure of Lieut. -Col. Isaacs riding at its 
head than by a humble litter that accompanied its rear 
company. 

"That feller was going to assault with his compan}', 
though he's got the 'flammatary rheumatism so he can't 
walk! Captain of Company K of the Sixth Illinois, is he? 
Well, he'll do." 

The vanquished army presented a curious spectacle to 
the wide-open, excited eyes of the victors. Wcful dis- 
aster as its most prominent characteristic. Even before 
our boys climbed the hill they passed houses which were 
used as hospitals; and in one court-yard particularly they 
could not help seeing many unburied dead, dragged out 
and left lying, with jaws dropped and sightless eyeballs 
uncovered to the morning sun, and to swarming flies 
seeking vainly for atoms of moisture in the dried-up 
founts of tears. 

Thousands of muskets, a few in orderly stacks, but 
more in great, promiscuous, higgledy-piggledy heaps, 
"good enough for the dam' Yanks. " Three thousand horses 
and mules and their hundreds upon hundreds of wagons. 
Forty-eight pieces of field artillery and eighteen siege- 
guns, including those mounted in batteries close to the 
river bank whence their level fire had been so terrible to 
the gun-boats, 

"The saddest of all sights, next to a defeat, is a vic- 
tory." The fearful evidences of loss by the storm of shot 



228 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

and shell were far more impressive and memorable than 
the sight of the captured property, which in its dirt and 
disorder looked absolutely worthless. Many dead were 
unburied; the stench was intolerable; in every hospital 
tired and sleepy surgeons were working over the wounded 
in a mechanical, perfunctory fashion; while laid outside 
— expelled to make room for others who might possibly 
be saved — were the usual pitiful collections of men past 
hope or help; not yet dead, but waiting for death as 
their only possible relief from suffering. Some were 
minus an arm or leg, but most had been abandoned 
without an operation. And always the swarming flies! 
After every battle, adjoining each hospital, lie these 
prostrate living forms; mostly silent, and merely gasping 
for last breaths, but sometimes neither silent nor motionless 
— writhing, moaning, hiccoughing — the most heart rend- 
ing of all the distressing spectacles that meet the sol- 
dier's eyes. 

At last the Sixth found a shelter (the first it had had 
since leaving Cairo) in the shape of a line of old-fashioned 
"Sibleys" — tall, round tents which taper in a drooping 
curve from ground to apex. These had once belonged 
to the United States, and had lately been in the possession 
of the confederacy; now they were part of the spoils of 
war and were allotted to the Sixth, both as a reward of 
merit and a necessity of existence. 

Morphy soon started to hunt for Harry Planter, 
wounded and captured in the affair on the right. It 
seemed as if the poor boy would never be found; the 
conviction that he must have died becoming inevitable. 
Still Morphy kept on. Face after face, in scores and 
hundreds, did he peer into. The Union men in rebel 
hands Avere indeed few; yet more than once did a feeble 
voice meet his ear: 



I 



WHAT MAC'S FIELD-GLASS SHOWED. 229 

"Hello, lieutenant! Is it all true? Glory! Glory! 
Will our boys come and fetch me away pretty soon? 
Oh, thank God!" And grimy hands were raised to hide 
the tears that would spring forth. * 

Then again the familiar uniform wculd be half recog- 
nized by eyes that would never see flag, friends, or hope 
again. The sunlight of victory and joy for us, the 
blackness of night for them. To die with others, in 
defeat and disaster, is natural; to die alone amid victory 
and rejoicings is hard — hard. One young fellow, almost 
a boy, given over as mortally hurt, beckoned anxiously 
to Morphy to whisper to him : 

"Oh, Lieutenant — my folks are — are very fine people — 
rich and all that — society and all that — they let me come 
though it broke mother's heart — they came down to 
Cairo with me — and if they knew — knew about— this — 
they would all come down and brin-g Dr. Brainard — he 
might know how to — to — to— to — save me, not let me 
die 7iowr And he sobbed as he gazed at Morphy with 
dry, pleading eyes that spoke a desperate longing for life. 

"Well, my lad, I'm going to fetch an ambulance for a 
man belonging to my own company, and I'll see that you 
get carried over at the same time." So the boy's short 
march to the grave was at least illumined with the light 
of hope; soon to be superseded by the blinding glare of 
fever and delirium. 

More faces — faces — faces. No, he doesn't know tins 
man, nor this, nor this, nor this — 

"Lieutenant! Lieutenant Morph)'! Thank God I hap- 
pened to open my eyes! I've been waiting for some of 
you ever since sun-up, when the firing didn't begin again 
as usual — and they didn't bring us nothin' to eat — and 
the man who brought round the water said they'd sur- 
rendered. And after all you was going to go by me!" 



230 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

Sobs and tears choked his utterance, and he clasped 
Morphy's hand as if he was afraid to let it go. The 
lieutenant had failed to recognize the well-known feat- 
ures for which he was so earnestly seeking; pinched as 
they were with pain and privation, and grimy with 
dirt and powder-smoke. 

Yes; Planter was glad of our success, but his wound 
hadn't been touched yet, and was already fly-blown. Ten 
thousand prisoners was a good many; but how about get- 
ting something to eat besides raw corn-meal mush? He 
didn't wonder the boys felt good — now how quick did the 
lieutenant s'pose he could be got over into our lines? 

Morphy laid a wet cloth over his wound, gave him 
something from his haversack and canteen, and reassured 
him as to his future; and then sat down on the edge of 
the cot for a comforting chat. Company news was given 
and relished, of course. Harry forgot all his suffer- 
ings while he learned of the astounding arrest of Will 
and Mac; the brilliant outcome of the matter; the dis- 
comfiture of Col. Puller, and his final resignation under 
fire. To this last Harry could only say: 

" Well, I will be blowed ! " 



"Mac," said the captain after dress-parade that even- 
ing, ''Uncle Sam owes you a big debt. Suppose you had 
kept 3^our mouth shut concerning our 'flank in the air,' 
what then?" 

"Oh, the rebs would have got out, that's all. They 
couldn't have got their trains out, and what's an army 
without a train? We should have bagged them before 
they could reach any new base, I guess." 

"An army isn't like a cannon-ball, that can roll around 
where it has a mind, is it?" 



WHAT mac's field-glass SHOWED. 231 

"No, not by a jug-full — more like a sword that you've 
got to hold in your hand." 

The captain heaved a weary sigh. 

"What a job we've got on hand, Mac!" 

"Well, we don't have to do it all to-night. Let's have 
a pipe." 

"Will it make me able to keep this leg still?" (He was 
lying on his cot with his knee bared.) 

"Does it hurt all the time?" 

"No; but just as soon as it gets into a position where 
it doesn't hurt, I've got to move it so it will." 

"I notice you keep it going —budge it about six times 
a minute, right along." 

"I study and try to make out why I can't let it lie 
still; but I can't, and I can't make out why, either." 

With his hands he lifted the offending joint to an ob- 
tuse angle. "There — that's the easiest position; put 
something under it to support it; that Army Regulations 
will do; set it up on edge — so. Now just lay your hand 
on it, gently. Oh, that feels good!" 

"It's burning hot. You wouldn't think it to look at it; 
only slightly swelled and red. Does it hurt now?" 

"Not a bit. Now let's try the pipe. Thank you; that 
tastes good — pretty good." 

"Of course it does. Didn't you ever hear the song of 
the soldier to his pipe?" 

"Not that I remember. How does it go?" 

"Hunger and thirst. Hunger and thirst. 
Give me my pipe; let 'em do their worst. 

"Cold and wet. Cold and wet. 
Give me my pipe, I can soon forget. 

"Sickness and pain. Sickness and pain. 
Give me my pipe, and I won't complain. 



232 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

••Powder and ball. Powder and ball. 
Give me my pipe, PU smoke till I fall. 

•'Battle and blocxl. P>attle and blood. 
Give me my pipe, it'll still taste good. 

"Wounds and death. Wounds and death. 
I'll draw my pipe with my dying breath." 

"First-rate! Who made them?" 

"Oh, some damfool soldier or other — on the march 
through the mud I judge by the sound." As he spoke 
he looked away, out under the tent flap; and Fargeon 
always suspected that the rude rhymes had originated 
with the rough campaigner, during some toilsome march. 

After a few minutes of silent smoking, Fargeon leaned 
over and laid his pipe on the ground. 

"How's the knee?" 

"All right." 

"Maybe you could get to sleep." 

"Maybe." 

Mac went out and lowered the tent flap, and Will 
dropped asleep. About five minutes later Mac heard his 
name called and reentered the tent. 

"Has it started to aching again?" 

"N — o, but he's got to come down." 

"Why not let him alone if he don't hurt you?" 

"Don't ask foolish questions. Just put your hand 
underneath and lift him a little and take out the book. 
There — so — now lower gently — oh, Lord! that knee-cap 
feels like one great big boil! m-M-M-M-m!" He leaned up 
on his elbow and glared at the insensate torment; threat- 
ened it with his fist as if he would like to annihilate it. 

"I told you you'd better let well enough alone." 

"Go along about your business! Send me some deaf 
and dumb man that won' t talk foolishness! m-M-M-M-m!" 



WHAT MAC'S FIELD-GLASS SHOWED. 233 

Mac laughed, but did not go, and as soon as the acute 
paroxysm of pain had passed, Will apologized for his 
impatience. 

"Oh, that's all right, Captain! If you'd just hinted 
you wanted me away I should have felt cut up — but a 
straight-out cuss like that don't hurt me." 

"Did I swear?" 

"Well — substantially. Now I'm going to have a sur- 
geon here if it takes every hair off his head!" 

"Mac, don't you do it! I'm calm and serious now, 
and I tell you that I shall be calmly and seriously angry 
if you allow any doctor to come near me. Think of it — 
a surgeon prescribing for my hot knee while such men as 
Harry Planter are w^aiting for the first dressing of their 
wounds! I won't have it, and that settles it. Promise 
to do as I say." 

Mac promised, but he managed to get invited to dine 
at the mess of a surgeon whom he knew; and uas com- 
forted to know that the inflammatory kind of rheumatism, 
though the most painful, is usually the least serious type 
of the complaints that go by that name; that it has a regu- 
lar number of days to run (if it receives no fresh aggrava- 
tions by fresh exposure), and that in most cases the chief 
danger is that it may run into the chronic form. 

Next morning a telegram came from Mr. Penrose, ask- 
ing how Will was in health, and saying that a relief expe- 
dition was fitting out to help the hospital service. He 
offered to accompany the expedition, "bringing a member 
of my family along." 

Will lay back with the yellow paper fluttering in his 
hand, and tried to fancy his sweet, pure, delicate, girl- 
ish Sally sitting by his side. Then he opened his eyes 
and looked at his shabby environments. The old tent 
was full of holes and rents^ and smeared with dirt ; floor- 



234 "^^^ CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

less, almost seatless, quite cheerless. Soiled clothes 
here, crumpled newspapers there, sword and belt yonder, 
lying on dirty boots — worse than all, a certainty of in 
habitants in the old Sibley other than those entered on' 
the army lists, either Union or rebel. He himself un- 
shaven, unshorn, and wearing clothes that had not been 
even removed for more than a week. 

His mind wandered out over the scene around. No 
cleanliness, no decency, no privacy, none of the con- 
veniences of civilized humanity; no purity to the sense of 
seeing, of hearing, of smelling, or of tasting. Dead 
beasts polluting not only the land, but even the water of 
the river, along Vv^hose muddy banks their carcasses lay 
rotting. 

Until now he had not at all realized the squalor of the 
place and time; but now he had to try to reconcile it 
with the state of things suggested by the telegram he 
held in his hand — with the presence of Sally Penrose! 
He could not do it. He wished — oh, how he wished! — 
that they would not come. He tried to frame a tele- 
gram which should not be rude and yet should prevent 
the visit. 

"Confined to tent with inflammatory rheumatism. Not 
dangerous. Hardly fit to see you here. When I can I 
will ask leave and come as soon as possible." 

Fargeon wrote this very plainly, and the telegrapher got 
the words all correctly; but by reason of one slight 
change in punctuation, it presented an entirely new 
aspect when it reached the parsonage. 




CHAPTER XIX. 

THE LADY BURDEN-SHARERS. 

HE change in the telegram was simply 
the interpolation of a period after the 
v/ord "ask," which made the closing 
part read thus: 

"Hardly fit to see you here. When 
I can I will ask. Leave and come as 
soon as possible. " 

This was rather blind ; but the clos- 
ing sentence was unmistakable. Poor 
English, but plain in its meaning. They "left" at once. 
It was not so bad after all. The "relief expedition" 
was united with a party consisting of the governor of the 
state and other high officials, and all were provided with 
a chartered steamer (the Athabasca) at Cairo; so that 
not only was there transportation to and from the bat- 
tle-ground provided for, but also their shelter and sup- 
port while they staid. 

Sally and her sister Lydia were both of the party, to- 
gether with others of their sex from Chicago and Spring- 
field, where (as over the entire North) people were wild 
with joy and eager with thanks to Grant and his brave 
army, and offers of relief and aid. 

What belles the young women found themselves to be 
on the Athabasca and in camp! Sally's alarm at the 
' Come as soon as possible" message had been appeased 

235 



235 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

by later advices, and she was moderately gay as well as 
conspicuously handsome. Solemn statesmen and politi- 
cians called her "Lady" and talked gravely to her on seri- 
ous subjects, greatly to her delectation and eke to theirs; 
for she listened much and said little, gazing with great 
eyes that seemed to drink in their ponderous words as 
the embodiment of all wisdom. 

Lydia, in all the rosy dawn of womanhood, took naive 
delight in the exercise of her newly acquired povv^er over 
that strange creature, man. She made havoc among the 
hearts of the younger travelers^new-made officers, mili- 
tary secretaries, aides-de-camp and other fledglings, brim- 
ming with ambition and impatience to taste war's bitter 
cup that sparkles so alluringly. They awaited their turns 
to promenade the deck with her, and applied all arts to 
please lier — quite unconscious that she was privately 
comparing each with McClintock, so strong, grave, quiet; 
her ideal of heroism. 



"Sally, are you asleep?" 

No answer comes, and a pretty face peers down over 
the edge of the upper berth, at a lovely face just visible 
in the lower, by the dim light of the state-room lamp. 

"Oh, 5'ou needn't shut your eyes so tight! I can see, 
by your shutting them so a^vfully tight, that you are wide 
awake; so I am going to talk. Well, another man has 
said, when I told him that I had enlisted as a hospital 
nurse, that he was going to try to get wounded immedi- 
ately, and then followed it by saying that he was 
wounded already and shot through the heart, and all 
that; and when I said that no man that was shot 
through the heart could be admitted to 7ny hospital, he 
said they'd have to bury him, and would I come to his 



THE LADY BURDEN-SHARERS. 237 

funeral; and I said I would with pleasure, and fire a 
salute over his grave; and he asked what kind of a 
salute, and said if it was the right kind of a salute he 
would come to life again just to be there and be struck 
by it! Oh, I wish you'd been there! You'd have just 
died!" 

"Then I'm glad I wasn't. Now go to sleep." 

"Oh, you old poke, you! You think nobody can be 
grown up but yourself. I really believe they all think 
I'm a great deal older than I am, and I just hope you 
won't go and tell them I am not. Now, will you?" 

"Oh, no; I won't tell them you are not older than you 
are. How could you be?" 

"Oh, you know what I mean. I think it's perfectly 
splendid, and I wish the old Athabasca could go on for- 
ever and ever, and we stay on board always, just sailing 
up one river and down another. Don't you?" 

"How could the Athabasca get across after going up 
one river so as to come down another?" 

"Oh, anyway she liked. And I think the young officers 
are perfectly splendid; and you go and spend your time 
with those governors and things instead! Pretending to 
be so awfully impressed! 1 saw you shining your big 
eyes at that old fossil, Dubois, and making believe you 
hung on every word he uttered about Mason and Slidell, 
and all that! Talk about the attitude of England — I 
wish you could have seen your attitude! If you could 
only have stood where I did and seen yourself! You 
would have died sure enough." 

"Died over again? I couldn't if I had died before when 
you say you wish I had." 

"S-T-O-U-G-H, stuff! You know what I mean. And 
all the while you were thinking how you could get rid 
of him and write your letter to mother as you ought to 



238 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

have been doing, and you know it, Miss Pretense; so 
there now! But you're an old dear, and I love 3^ou of 
course — only your name ought to be Sapphira instead of 
Sara. How d'ye do, Sapphira?" 

"Bunn}'!" 

Instantly two pearly teeth, visible till then, were cov- 
ered by a firmly compressed lip; and a small steamboat 
pillow came plunging down into the lower berth. 

"Oh, how nice! I've been wanting another pillov/. 
Now if I call you Bunny again, what will you throw 
down?" 

"All the bed-clothes — and I'll freeze — and then you'll 
have no little sister!" 

Silence reigned for a few moments, and then a fair 
white arm, half covered by a loose sleeve, thrust the 
pillow back into the upper berth. 

"Sally, you are a blessing and an angel, no matter if 
you were to call me Bunny ten thousand times in suc- 
cession; but I hope you will take some other time to do 
it, for it would keep me awake; and now I wish you 
wouldn't talk any more, because I want to go to sleep. 
'Our Father Who art in Heaven — '" and she just man- 
aged to get through the Lord's prayer by slighting the 
last words into "freverneveramen," already nearly in- 
audible to her sister, and quite so to herself. 

Next morning when the fair sisters greeted each other 
from berth to berth, Lyd.ia asked: 

"What can be the matter? Why are we so quiet, do 
you suppose? " 

"I suppose that we are at Donelson." 

"Oh, I hope not!" And then two slender arched pink 
soles, finished off with shining pink heels and toes, issued 
from the upper berth and hung down from limbs, round, 
shapely and — not slender. 



THE LADY BURDEN-SHARERS. 239 

"Oh, how sharp this board is! I feel as if I were a 
wounded soldier being amputated." 

Down she came to the floor with a rustle and thump. 
Then a bright face, adorned with frowzy, curly hair and 
two ravishing teeth, peered out of the little window. 

"Yes! We're here! I can see a tall, ugly, sloping, 
paved river-bank, and then a high, bare bluff with a real 
fort on top! And oh! such lots and lots of steamboats 
lying with their noses at the bank and their heels kicking 
out into the stream! And one steamboat, with sloping, 
black sides, is anchored in the middle of the river, and 
she has a flag flying, and a great big, «?<;/// /-looking can- 
non on the deck, and another peeping out of a hole in 
her side, like a dog in a kennel. 

"Come, dear; dress yourself, or else climb back into 
your berch and let me get up." 

"And such crowds of men on the river-bank! And our 
fine gentlemen are standing in a row and are looking 
ashore — like your Sunday-school class waiting for the 
Christmas presents to be given out." 

"Now will you dress?" 

"Yes, yes; don't you see I am dressing?" 

"No, I don't call anything dressing until you come 
away from that window and behave as a girl should who 
is old enough to have admirers. -t= * * Oh, yes, kiss- 
ing and hugging are very well, but how about dressing?" 



A great deal of hot water and soap had done their best 
for Will, and some boards and a chair by his bedside 
were striving to ameliorate the squalor of his miserable 
old gray tent. Yet, after all, who was it who greeted 
the parson and his fair, fresh daughters? It was a gaunt 
and grizzled elderly man, thin and pale with illness and 



240 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K, 

pain; his hair too long uncut and his beard (which he 
had shaved off in Chicago) at its very worst — the ten-day 
stage. No linen about him — nothing but dingy, over- 
night-looking woolens. 

Poor Sally struggled against the hateful, ungrateful, un- 
patriotic feeling, but it would intrude; a feeling as if she 
could respect this veteran as a heroic and honorable 
wreck — but not think of him as a lover. She bent down 
and kissed his forehead — just a duty-kiss, such as slie 
might bestow on a sick but worthy uncle. And she sat 
by his side and held his feverish hand in hers, saying 
little, looking off through the tent opening, and feeling 
utterly foreign to everything about her, including Will. 
He on his part saw the incongruity of it all, and more 
than ever regretted the visit. 

Will" (she spoke with an effort), "some of the ladies 
on the boat have formed themselves into a nursing corps 
to be known as the Burden-sharers." 

"Oh, I hope, Sally, you won't go into any such scheme!" 

"Well, they have none but married women." [She did 
not say that in a burst of patriotic fervor she had 
dreamed of having her father marry her to him so as to 
fit her for the "high and hol3- mission."] 

"I'm glad of that, anyhow." 

"We all thought, you know — 

" 'There was lack of woman's nursing, 
There was dearth of woman's tears.' " 

"Well, SO there is and must be. It's part of war." 

"We had a beautiful address from a Boston lady. 
She said it was woman's mission to bathe the brow of 
anguish." 

"Well, but, my dear Sally, you know the brow is only 
a small part of a man. Who is going to wash the rest?" 

Sally did not know. 



THE LADY BURDEN-SHARERS. 24I 

"But couldn't I read aloud to them — write for them — 
pray with them!" 

"Oh, yes, in a large northern hospital with separate 
rooms for different classes of patients — convalescents, 
and so forth. But there is no place in a field hospital 
for my pretty, delicate Sally." 

"Are there absolutely no women in the hospitals?" 

"YeS) they hire some black women to wash, and scrub, 
and- -such things. " 

Mr. Penrose and Lydia (attended by some of her satel- 
lites) were making a tour of the fort and a few of the 
nearest defensive earth-works, under the guidance of 
McClintock and Morphy. Lydia and Mac extended 
their walk to the earth-work where the Sixth had stood 
ready for the assault, on the memorable Sunday morning, 
and saw the place where the captain's litter had been 
placed — they even found the footprints where Mac had 
stood when he saw the white flag through the morning mist. 

"Mr. McClintock — Lieutenant, I suppose I ought to 
say, only I never can think of it — would you mind setting 
your feet in those very places again? Now look through 
your glass at the fort just as you did that morning! Oh, 
that is splendid! Can you remember how you felt and 
what you thought?" 

"I guess the first thought I had, was that Captain Far- 
geon wouldn't have to hobble up the hill after all." 

"What next?" 

"Oh — how Colonel Puller would be wanting to kick him- 
self black and blue in a few minutes." 

"And then what?" 

"Why, then the boys began shouting and yelling and 
laughing, so that I couldn't hear myself think — only to 
be glad they were all going to stay alive awhile instead 
of going dead that morning." 
/6 



242 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

"Now come down and stand by me and tell me truly 
— cross your heart, as we school-girls used to say — didn't 
3'ou think of yourself at all? — not the least little bit?" 

"Well — come to think — after awhile, when I saw all the 
boys shaking hands, and hugging each other, and sob- 
bing for joy, it did strike me a little how curious it was 
that nobody on earth cared whether I was alive or dead. " 

He looked in her glowing face and met her shining 
eyes with a quiet smile, the look and smile lasting so long 
that she had to turn away, with a little laugh of embar- 
rassment. 

"Well — Lieutenant, if you'll promise not to laugh at me, 
I'll tell you what I thought just now as you stood there. " 

"Do tell me. You can't hurt my feelings— they're 
callous. " 

"Well, then — you'll try not to laugh at me, won't you? 
Because you know we ministers' daughters naturally re- 
member our fathers' texts." 

"I won't laugh. Was it Joshua tooting his horn before 
the walls of Jericho?" 

"No, indeed! That's horrid of you! It was some- 
thing ver)^ complimentary; and rather sentimental." 

"Well, Miss Lydia, if you can stand it I can. What 
did you think?" 

"I thought — 'How beautiful upon the mountains are 
the feet of him that bringeth good tidings!' So there 
now!" 

Mac looked away a moment in silence, while Lydia 
wondered how he would take it. When he turned to her 
again his face was flushed up to the very temples. 

"That is the prettiest music I ever heard in my life." 

They rejoined the minister, and the three walked up 
the scarred slope — a week ago so deadly, now so dull, 
commonplace, silent, and peaceful. A cow wandered 



THE LADY BURDEN-SHARERS. 243 

about searching for spears of last year's grass. Birds 
were actively discussing the great nest question. Negro 
children were picking up fragments of shells, which they 
offered for sale, calling them (with unconscious accuracy) 
"Moment'ums. " They bought some of these, and culled 
some other reminders of the place, moss and ferns, some 
dandelions, and even a few — very few — violets, until 
Lydia's hands and handkerchief were quite loaded. 

"Mr. I mean Lieutenant — is this long mound of fresh 

soil another earth-work?" 

Mac hesitated, then stammered: "Yes — yes, miss." 

"Union, or rebel?" 

"Well— a little of both." 

"Nonsense! How could there be a joint earth-work? 
The men on each side would kill all the men on the 
other side! Then it would have nothing but dead corpses 
to protect." 

Mac laughed. "Well, Miss Penrose, to tell you the 
truth, that's all it ever did protect. It's only a grave." 

"Oh!" She shuddered and clung to his arm. Then, 
overcoming her repugnance, she went to the unsightly 
heap (Mac carefully guiding her to the windward side) 
and dropped the leaves and flowers here and there along 
its slope. 

"How pitifully few they look!" 

"Yes. Just about a leaf apiece for the boys lying be- 
low, piled side by side and over each other as close as 
they can be packed in." 

They all returned to Fargeon's tent and prepared for 
a visit to the hospitals. Will insisted that Sally should 
accompany them; to which she readily assented — not 
that she would confess to being tired of that dreary old 
tent and Will's hot hand and irrepressible restlessness; 
but that she must make at least one effort to carry out some 



244 "^"^ CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

of the romantic resolutions she had fixed in her mind so 
firmly before coming from home, and during the jour- 
ney; when she was thinking constantly of Florence 
Nightingale, and wondering if any dying soldier would 
ever kiss her shadow as she passed. 

A memorable pilgrimage, that through the main hos- 
pitals, an experience that none of the civilians ever for- 
got. Here the bandaged stump of a lost arm, laid out 
on the blanket, or on a rude box beside the cot. There a 
leg, sorely injured, and yet to be saved if possible, sup- 
ported by a cord let down from above. Again, a sufferer 
being nourished through a tube because his jaw was shot 
away. Worst of all, perhaps, the cases where only the 
pale, pinched face and fading eyes indicated that that 
bullet had found its way to some vital organ, and was 
necessarily a peremptory summons to 'leave the warm 
precincts of the cheerful day." 

One fine fellow, older than the average, specially 
attracted Mr. Penrose's attention. He seemed to be 
looking at the world with a kindly, hopeful, amused 
patience; as if he could contemplate life as a whole and 
easily put up with a simple episode like a sojourn in a 
field hospital with a wound received in the very first 
hour of his very first battle After a few words which 
elicited this fact, the visitor said to the patient: 

"My dear friend, I am a clergyman. Is there anything 
I can do to minister to your deepest needs?" 

"Well — if you could give me a pipe and some tobacco, 
and permission to smoke here — " 

This was not exactly what the good man had in view, 
but nevertheless he sought the attendant in charge to 
prefer the humble request. Being referred to the sur- 
geon, the latter said: 

"What — number thirty-eight? Oh, yes; let him have 



THE LADY BURDEN-SHARERS. 245 

whatever he craves. It won't make any difference. He 
can't possibly live." 

And when he returned — pale, breathless, and sorely dis- 
turbed — the quiet man said: 

"I see the doctor has told you it won't make any dif- 
ference what / do." 

After he recovered from the severe shock all this gave 
him, Mr. Penrose managed to secure the coveted solace; 
and at once he had his hands full of business, so many 
applied to him to do the same for them. He soon ex- 
hausted the spare supply of his own friends; then what 
there was to be found on the steamboat, and finally he 
was forced to spend in the sutlers' shops every cent he 
had with him. He wrote home to his wife that night: 

"You would have been edified, my dear, could you have 
seen your reverend spouse spending a good part of the 
holy Sabbath flying about, purchasing very cheap tobacco 
at very dear rates from everj'body who would sell it to 
him. I have always tried to be a humble servant of my 
Master. He said the Sabbath was made for man; and I 
must say, dear, that the looks some of these men gave 
me (though they said but little) seemed like those the 
painters depict on the face of the sick whom He healed. 

"The 'Burden-sharers' — God bless their dear, kind 
hearts — set bravely to work in their mission. They vis- 
ited all the hospitals, without exception, and repeated 
over and over again the offer to bathe the sufferers' 
brows, and the assurance that they would gladly have 
brought a bouquet to each patient if they had onl}' had 
the needful flowers. 

"They worked all the morning and up to dinner-time; 
some of them were even late for the one-o'clock dinner on 
board the boat! After dinner, being quite tired out, they 
thought best to husband their strength for the work, and 



246 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

not to climb up the hill again for the short time they 
would be able to serve before supper; so they decided to 
rest through the afternoon in order to be fresh for the 
labors of to-morrow. 

"But between ourselves, my love, I begin to doubt the 
perfect success of the Burden-sharers' movement. Mrs. 
Simpler — Mother Simpler she is called in charity circles 
— seems more adapted to the kind of work needed, 
although the ladies, in forming the society, scarcely 
recognized her as one of them. 

"Mother Simpler did not arrive in time for dinner, nor 
even for supper, I believe; for it was hours afterward- 
after dark in fact — I saw the steward setting a meal for 
her at one end of the long table, away down the cabin 
under the farthest lamp. I told her of the ladies' plans 
and asked for her report. I think I will set it down as 
nearly as possible in her own good-natured phrases, and 
her rude, untutored language: 

"'Why, Lord bless ye, I haven't got nothing to report. 
I jest sot down between the first two beds I come to 
and 'tended to the boys as well as I could. I hustled 
'round and got 'em some warm water an' soap an' a 
towel, an' they washed themselves good. Then a feller 
that had lost his arm asked me to help him out, an' of 
course I did, an' I washed his feet for him, an' I tell you 
they needed it bad. Then I asRed the hospital steward 
if they didn't provide no fine-tooth combs; an', if j'ou'U 
believe me, there wasn't such a thing to be had! The 
idy of a hospital without a fine-tooth comb! Well, I 
wasn't goin' to give it up so; an' I jest made 'em fix up 
a bottle of decoction of cocculus indicus and I spread it 
round good! tell ye! An' I'm a-goin' to stick to it, too. 
You may tell the folks up in Chicago that you left me 
down here fightin'varmin, an' they may call me old Mother 



THE LADY BURDEN-SHARERS. 



247 



Cocculus Indicus if they' ve a mind to, but I ain't a-goin' 
to give up the fight till they're driven out of every hospital 
here — yes, an' out of every camp, too, that I'^can get 
at.' 

"Dear old Martha! Before her I feel my littleness. 
The Lord will remember her in the last day of her much 
serving. * * * " 



The next dawn heralded a brighter day for the young 
lovers. But that must wait for a new chapter. 




CHAPTER XX. 




HARD LINES IN PLEASANT PLACES. 

SAY, Mac, I can't stand this." 

"Worse this morning, Captain Far- 
geon?" 

"No; I'm better. It's left my 

knees; though my ankles are catching 

it. It seems to be going off in that 

I direction, and you see it's only got 

[■■ i y^ two feet further to go before I lose it 

I'fM^ altogether. " 

"Two feet? Oh, I see; that's a 

joke. Well, I guess you're getting 

better sure enough. What was it you 

couldn't stand?" 

"Why, looking so like Time in the primer! Don't 

you suppose you can lassoo a barber off one of the boats 

to come up and shave me, and some one to brush my 

boots and clothes?" 

"Better? I believe you! You are going to be our old 
elegant Cap Fargeon again. Hurrah for everything! 
The boys will just get up on their hind legs and whoo*p 
when I tell 'em you're all right once more!" 

The day was bright and warm; the snow was gone and 
the ground almost dry. 

"I suppose there are no boards to be had, Mac?" 
"Not one, for love or money," said Mac, laughing. 
Then he whistled, and Chipstone appeared. 

348 



HARD LINES IN PLEASANT PLACES. 249 

"Chip, the captain wants some floor-boards, and I tell 
him there are none to be had for love or money." He 
winked at the sergeant (just promoted), and Chip 
answered gravely: 

"Not one, Lieutenant, for love or money!" 

Then he disappeared, and within an incredibly short time 
a little group of K men appeared with enough boards 
for a good tent floor and an outside platform besides. 

"I thought you said they couldn't be had for love or 
money." 

"They can't. Captain; but we know of other ways of 
getting wha.t you want — and we got 'em." 

Will felt a little doubtful about the strict morality of 
this summary proceeding, but (not being so squeamish 
as of old) he did not inquire into it more particularl}'. 
The floor was laid; a "fly" of canvas was stretched over- 
head in front of the tent, a long chair was borrowed from 
the nearest hospital. Will, with some help, donned his 
cleanly brushed clothes, got his face shaved, and — looked 
like a new man. He could not quite stand it to put the 
boots on yet; but in their now resplendent appearance 
they were ranged in plain sight and really looked quite 
decorative — though the word is a later adaptation. 

On the boat, Sally Penrose had had a rather bad 
night. S/ie, a patriot and a Christian, a thoughtful, self- 
respectful woman, to find her foolish fancy shocked into 
repulsion by the personal appearance of her plighted 
spouse! His privations and sufferings — voluntary and 
heroic — which ought to add to her love, acting as an 
extinguisher to it! 

Perhaps if all had been different — if Captain Fargeon 
had been wounded ever so dreadfulh^ and she had found 
him all gory, among the dead and dying, she would not 



250 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

have failed so utterly at the time of trial; but in his ill- 
smelling tent on that muddy hill, with his rheumatism — 

In the morning she made a point of looking her best, 
and being ready for breakfast among the very first, and 
of getting herself, her father and her sister started up 
the long, hard climb at the very earliest possible moment. 
Firmness! No hanging back from the dreadful, horrid 
tent! And she tvould smile. She would laugh, and make 
dear Will laugh, with an account of the Burden-sharers' 
brow-bathings, done in her very most brilliant style! She 
would be a real "streak of sunshine" (as dear Will had 
often called her in happier days when she wasn't engaged 
to him) and not a cloud of gloom, as she felt she had 
been j^esterday. 

The effort, mental and bodily, made her feel better, 
and she arrived, flushed and panting, at the camp level. 
It scarcely took any force to institute the pre-determined 
smile as she tripped along, quite outstripping the rest. 

What is this? An elegant awning-covered platform, in 
front of a floored tent; glittering sword and flame-red 
sash decorously hung up over a row of glistening black 
boots decoratively arranged below! And — her own lover 
sitting in soldierly state in the midst! his clean-shaven 
face thinned and paled by suffering, but handsomer than 
of old, because graver, and strengthened by the memory 
of battle and the late calm contemplation of impending 
death. Yesterday was all a horrid dream — it was some 
other woman who had shrunk from some other man. 

She dared not kiss him in all that publicity; but when 
he clasped her hand she furtively pressed it to her lips 
and met his admirmg gaze with a look of unmistakable 
reciprocity. 

"You are a vision of beauty this morning," whispered he. 

"You are my handsome hero and my love forever." 



HARD LINES IN PLEASANT PLACES. 25I 

The boys of Company K cast many curious yet re- 
spectful glances at the fair sisters, and smiled sympathet- 
ically when sounds of hearty laughter (Fargeon's voice 
being audible among the rest) came from the group as it 
listened to Sally's story of the doings of the ladies in the 
hospitals, as reported by themselves. Word was passed 
down the line of tents that the visitors were coming 
down to see the men at home; whereupon they proceed- 
ed to make themselves decent. Those who were mend- 
ing garments necessary for propriety hastened to put 
them on. Those who were washing their hairy chests 
and muscular shoulders, still black and blue from the 
recoil of the musket, got themselves into presentable 
shape as soon as possible. 

When it came to the point Sally declared herself 
"tired," at the same time giving Will a hand-squeeze 
that translated her "tired" feeling into a reluctance to 
leave him. So the others set off without her. But 
almost the first group they stopped to talk with (much as 
they admired the budding beauty of Lydia) asked Mac: 

"Ain't Cap Fargeon's young woman goin' to honor us 
with a call?" This was said in a tone of assumed indif- 
ference; but the lieutenant's quick ear detected an under- 
tone of disappointment that made him interrupt Lydia 
and say: 

"Oh, yes — she's coming of course. I'll go back and 
see what keeps her. " 

He went up and whispered a few words to Fargeon. 

"Sally," said the captain, with gratified pride, "the 
lieutenant says the men will be hurt if you don't go and 
see them." 

"Oh, indeed!" she cried, dimpling, blushing, and bri- 
dling. "I am awfully flattered, and I'll go at once." 

"I don't wonder they love to look at you — you beauty!" 



252 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

he murmured. "And give them your brightest, sweetest 
smile; for I love them like brothers." 

"All right! I'll look at each one as if I were already 
his sister-in-law!" 

Sally shook hands with them all (they were only about 
sixty now) and said a word to such as she had heard of 
personally. Happy they! 

"Sarg'ntChipstone, I heard of you after the corn-field 
battle." "Mr. Town, you're the one who got the first 
sight of the rebels over the corn-field." "Mr. Thrush, I've 
been waiting to see you to tell you that I went with 
Capt'n Fargeon to visit your mother, and am going again 
when I get back, so )'0U must tell me what to say to her 
for you." "Mr. Sylvester, I remember you too, at Cairo. 
I'm sorry not to hear you singing as you used to. We 
all cried when we heard about Clinton Thrush. It 
almost makes me cry now to think of it." And so on, at 
tent after tent. 

"Mr. McClintock has told me of your losing your 
blankets by no fault of your own, and about your being 
expected to pay for others. I think it is the most disgrace- 
ful, burning shame I ever heard of in my life! Gov. Yates 
is on the boat I am going back on, and I shall tell him 
the whole story." 

"Thank you, Miss Penrose. It does seem a little 
rough to fine Company K a hundred dollars and more 
for going out and being shot from both front and rear." 

"It shall not be so if I can help it."* 



♦ The men had to have blankets at once, so Fargeon (against Mac's advice) re- 
ceipted for them to the quartermaster, at the same time furnishing the proper affida- 
vits to show how the men had lost them, and asking for a free issue. Col. Puller 
sent up the papers "disapproved." When the paymaster next visited the regiment 
each man found, in the appropriate column of the pay-roll, an extra blanket charged 
him and deducted from his pay. The captain made all these deductions good to the 
men, using up his entire monthly stipend and a little more. Then, by help of Lieut. - 
Col. Isaacs, he set the whole matter clearly before the War Department, only to 
learn (after a year's delay) that nothing short of a special act of Congress would 
afford him relief. 







253 



254 '^^^ CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

After she had passed on one of the country boys 
(George Friend) was heard to say: 

"My! ain't she peaches? I'll bet ye s/ie kin play the 
pie-anner with her hands crossed an' her eyes shut /I'^^/iL' 
Yes, sir-ee!" 

Mac's attentions were seemingly monopolized by 
Sally, but a close observer might perceive that his eyes 
followed Lydia wherever she went under Morphy's de- 
voted escort. The gay party called at regimental head- 
quarters and were flatteringly received by "field and 
staff." Dr. Ward pretended to be very much annoyed 
and hurt, both personally and professionally, that Captain 
Fargeon should presume to be getting well without his 
aid or sanction. 

"However, Miss Penrose, I'll forgive him on one condi- 
tion, and that is that he will let me prescribe for him 
just once and will take the prescription — as he will." 

"Dear me. Doctor, under the circumstances, and con- 
sidering your state of mind, I should be afraid your pre- 
scription would be fatal." 

"I think it might. I don't think he will get over the 
remedy half so soon as he will over the disease." 

"Then I shall object to his trying it." 

"I don't believe you will; and I believe he will follow 
my directions to the letter." 

"Well, what is the prescription?" 

The doctor took out a prescription paper and wrote: 

"Rx. Athabasca. Quant, suf. Quotidie. Ad infinitum." 

Captain Fargeon "took his prescription like a little 
man," hired an intelligent black fellow to wait on him, 
and had himself transferred to the Athabasca, looking 
forward to a quiet, restful, luxurious time of perfect 
privacy and sweet enjoyment of the society of his lady- 
love. But things did not turn out exactly so. On the 



HARD LINES IN PLEASANT PLACES. 255 

contrary, he found himself once more in danger of being 
spoiled by hero-worship. The Burden-sharers would 
have liked to stand in line, awaiting their turn to bathe 
his brow. He was publicly pointed at as the man who 
had prepared to follow the assault on a litter rather 
than be left behind. Governor Yates himself was flatter- 
ingly attentive, and talked with him with all the art and 
charm which nature had so bountifully bestowed on our 
grand, unfortunate War-Governor, and which lingers in 
the memory of thousands of lllinoisans to this day. 

"Captain Fargeon, your State and nation honor such 
acts as that of yours, unimportant though you seem to 
think it. You are on this boat as the guest of Illinois. 
My only regret is that you did not come on board at once 
upon our arrival, instead of now, on the eve of our 
departure." 

"What?" cried poor Sally, struggling against a return 
of her old foolish faintness. "I thought — we all thought — " 
Here tears came to her relief and she welcomed them as 
evidence that she should not faint. 

"Do not distress yourself, dear lady. I am unexpect- 
edly and unwillingly called back to Springfield; but why 
should not Captain Fargeon accompany us, at least as 
far as Cairo?" 

"I have no leave of absence, Governor." 

"I think I can arrange that for you, Captain," answered 
the Governor, and added, with one of his charming 
bows, "and in the service of beauty in distress" (a wave 
of the hand toward the still tearful Sally), "no effort of 
mine shall be spared to make your trip agreeable to all 
concerned. " 

The Athabasca started at midnight (convoyed by a gun- 
boat), and Will was carried off a willing prisoner. After 
reaching Cairo no one remained on the boat except the 



256 



THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 



Penroses and their patient and Mrs. Simpler, who waited 
impatiently for the boat's return to Donelson, where she 
might continue her work — now armed with an official 
document that was to strengthen her hands and make 
her the savior of life to many men. 

For some days the party on the Athabasca enjoyed a 
heavenly quiet; Lydia alone being at all cast down by 
the change. Then the boat prepared for a return trip 
and the lovers were parted ; but it was not such anguish 
as before. Parting and meeting had now grown to seem 
more like natural and persistent occurrences, each follow- 
ing in orderly sequence. 




CHAPTER XXI. 

FORWARD TO SHILOH. 

'' /\ LL things come for him who can wait 
(only they often miss him, and inure to 
the benefit of some other fellow). 
This is true whether the waiting be 
voluntary or compulsory. The Sixth 
had to wait for its own camp and camp 
equipage; and they came. Also all 
things go from him who can wait — in- 
flammatory rheumatism among the rest; so Fargeon 
got on his feet again, scarcely the worse for his afflic- 
tion, which had been short and slight, and more than- 
compensated by the visit from and with his friends. 




"Tolly, show us yer card trick," said Chipstone, one 
day. "Ye 'llaow ye can tell the card a man picks out; 
naow we'd like t' see ye dew it. Put up or shut up." 

"Well, boys, that's what. You're to shuffle the cards, 
I cut 'em and hold 'em backs up; four of ye draw cards, 
look at 'em and put 'em back, I don't look at 'em, shuffle 
again, and then, blindfold, show every man the identical 
card he picked out." 

"Go ahead — talk's cheap; it takes stones to bring 
down persimmons." 

"VVa-al — I don't see no money up, so fur." 

"Pll bet a dollar, even, agin ye, if ye' re playin' it 
square. " 

J7 257 



258 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

"Good enough, Chip. Who next?" 

"Count me in," sung out several voices. 

"Hold on — four's enough. I can't afford to lose more'n 
four dollars. Chip, 'n' Cy, 'n' Aleck, 'n' Ben— that'll do. 
Naow you shuffle — naow I cut, see? Naow^ draw — thar, 
one at a time — so." (Each draws, glances furtively at 
his card and replaces it quickly and warily. ) "Thar naow, 
shuffle agin — see? Are ye satisfied? Any man that 
wants to can back out yet." 

"Oh, go ahead ! Ye want to back aout yerself , I guess. " 

"Back aout? Not by a jug-full! But seein' I've got 
the dead wood on ye, I let ye know that the bet's off. 
I don't want yer money; thirteen dollars a month is 
millions fer me. Naow blindfold me — so. Don't draw 
the handkerchief too awful tight! Quit yer foolin'! I 
said blindfold, not blind! Naow stand back while I jist 
lay out the cards in four rows, thirteen cards in a row — 
see? Thar! Naow, Chip, do ye see yer card?" 

"Yes, she's thar." 

"Cy, how about yours?" 

"She's O K." 

"So's mine," cried Aleck and Ben together. 

"All right then," cried ToUiver, pulling off his blind- 
fold. "Then I've showed each of ye the card he picked 
out. "I've kept my promise. How about the bets?" 

Of course the delighted spectators took pleasure in de- 
ciding that Tolly, their unfailing entertainer, had fairly 
won the money; but he, as "straight" as he was gay, 
stood by his refusal and merely advised the boys to look 
out sharper next time who they bet with. "Take the 
infant-class in a Sunday-school, my sonnies. Ye might 
win suthin' from them — if 5^6 have luck." 



"Well, boys, we move to-morrow." 



FORWARD TO SHILOH. 259 

"Where to?" 

"Oh, somewhere' s down in Dixie, I s'pose." 

"Go it, 5^6 cripples!" 

"No rest for the wicked." 

"What's the matter with lettin' somebody else do some 
of the marchin' and fightin' ?" 

"Ya-as; that's so, friend Rice! Marched t' death, an' 
froze t' death, an' starved t' death, an' fought t' death, 
an' scairt t' death; an' now started out again jest as 
soon as we begin to git half-wa}^ comfortable!" 

"You shut up! Where are we goin' to this time?" 

"Oh, steamboatin' somewhere; I don't know where. 
Nobody knows." 

"A free ride! Excursion tickets don't cost us a cent! 
Ain't we pampered autocrats? Reg'lar high mukkemuks!" 

"Well, I didn' t hear anything about any return tickets. " 

"Ah, yah! I'll bet ye! Lots of us won't need any." 

Good-bye, Donelson. Good-bye, all the earth-works, the 
fields fought over, and the woods fought under; the hor- 
rible hospitals and the great graves; the scenes of ago- 
nizing effort, of devoted courage, of bright victory and 
black defeat. Even a small, second-rate struggle, such 
as this was (although with great results), included many, 
many acts of heroism which were unheralded and are 
forgotten; some because of the insignificant standing of 
the actor; some because of his dying in the doing of 
them — the torch of glory quenched with the blood of the 
hero; like poor IMark's matches in the fence-corner. 
[In any European army the victory would have been 
followed by the distribution of a thousand "orders" and 
"decorations. "] 

Bright, clever Sally Penrose took care that one little 
bit of compensation should fall where it was deserved. 
She secretly learned the mystery of brevets, and actually 



26o THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

drew an application for one for Will Fargeon! She 
caused her father to sign it; then sent it to Governor 
Yates with a letter of her own; received it back with 
the governor's hearty indorsement, and sent it to General 
Grant, who at once approved it and forwarded it to the 
proper authorities. Not a word of all this reached the 
beneficiary, however, till long after the time we are now 
describing. 

Once more we break camp. Once more the impro- 
vised seats, tables, chimneys, floors, couches, comfortable 
devices innumerable — -"pulpits and piano-fortes" — are 
abandoned. The boys grumble, more for fun than any- 
thing else; for each and all were pleased and more than 
pleased with anything that looked like progress. "As 
though we were going to get to work and get through 
before judgment-day." 

We steam away northwesterly, down the Cumberland 
to where it empties into the Tennessee; then turning 
southerly, ■we steam up the Tennessee past captured 
Fort Henry, with its gun-boats and military post, to the 
furthest point the Union army has yet penetrated. We 
are at Pittsburg Landing, where the Union lines include 
Shiloh Church, only a few miles from the northern 
boundary of the "Gulf States." 

It is getting toward the beginning of April, and to 
northern senses the winds feel as warm and the woods 
look as green as they should at the end of May. There 
is something more repellant in untimely warmth than 
in untimely cold, and our boys are made languid and 
depressed by the unfamiliar, "unseasonable" mildness. 

Our first permanent camp-ground is in pleasant woods 
within an hour's easy march of the landing-place, where 
we instantly begin once more the institution of "pulpits 
and piano-fortes." Brigade after brigade passes out and 



FORWARD TO SHILOH. 26l 

takes position; the various bodies occupying every good 
camping-ground that can be found, until there are more 
than one hundred regiments of infantr}^ on the ground, 
besides artillery and cavalr}'. 

"Well Mac, how do you like it?" 

"What?" — removing his pipe — "tobacco? I like it 
very much." 

"No; our place and our surroundings." 

"Oh — food, forage and fuel plenty; water fairly good; 
paymaster comes regularly; and I'm not dead yet. Those 
are all the elements of happiness a soldier has any right 
to expect — a good deal more than all he gets, usually." 

"Come now, Mac, you know what I mean. In a cam- 
paigning point of view, what do you think of our pros- 
pects?" 

"Well, you might as well ask a number two mackerel 
in the Pacific Ocean to. show you the road to Norwich." 

"Oh, you can give some kind of a guess; what does it 
look like— attack or defense?" 

"Certainly not defense. You see how we're placed; 
every regiment on its own front and nobody's else — just 
where it is handy to a road and to water. Where could 
we fire, this minute, without hitting our friends?" 

"That means that we expect to march out and attack 
Corinth as soon as Buel joins us." 

"Surely, if the rebels allow it." 

"How can they hinder it?" 

"Jump on us before Buel gets here." 

"Ah! Now, Mac, that reminds me that I learned to-day 
that Beauregard had sent in a flag of truce, saying that 
if we did not evacuate the place in ten days he will 
attack it." 

"What?" 

"Just that. What does that mean?" 



262 



THE CAPTAIN OF COiMPANY K. 



Mac laid down his pipe and began to check off his views 
on his fingers, a familiar indication of just the frame of 
mind to which Fargeon had been trj'ing to lure him. 

"It means either" (thumb) "that Bory wanted the flag- 
bearer to snoop some information, or" (forefinger) "that 
he thinks he can fool us into waiting here for an attack 
that'll never come; or" (middle finger) "that he z> going 
to attack, and thinks that we'll think he isn't just 
because he says he is; or" (third finger) "that he doesn't 
know whether he's a-foot or a-horse-back. " 

"Well, that's four. 
Now take thum b — 
snooping information. " 



"I guess begets lots \r"''' 
of information better 
than any flag-bearer 
could fetch him; all 
these angry Southern- 
ers coming in com- 
plaining of depreda- 
tions on their planta- 
tions ! They either 
come a-purpose to 
learn, or they go back 
mighty ready to tell all they know. And you'll notice 
that they keep their eyes tight open, and alwa3^s Avant to 
be taken right to the 'head general.'" 

"Looks likely. Noav how about forefinger?" 
"Trying to fool us to gain time? V/ell, it lies between 
that and the next — trying to be taken by contraries. 
Albert Sidney Johnson is no fool, whatever Bory is." 
"Looks more like the attack tlien — doesn't it?" 
"It does squint that wa}'. One thing is certain, if they 




FORWARD TO SHILOH. 263 

daren t venture to attack us before Buel joins, they can't 

either attack or defend after he joins." 

"Humph! Now look here, Mac; you start by saying we 

are in no shape to stand an attack, and you end up by 

saying we're going to be attacked." 

'What of that? Such things have happened." 
"Well tlien, one of two things will come to pass:" 

(Will held up his hands and pulled back his thumb in 

mimicry of Mac) "either you're mistaken, or" (forefinger) 

"we'll get licked. " 

Mac never even noticed that he was being caricatured. 

He returned his pipe, and said between his teeth and 

between whiffs : 

"Oh, I s'pose Grant knows what he's about." 
"Perhaps so, perhaps not. What will become o. us if 

he doesn' t?" 

"We'll go dead, that's all." 

"You know him. Go and tell him what you think." 

"You ^/^;/'^'know him, or that wouldn't ever even come 

into your head. Any general who would stand that from 

a line officer wouldn't be worth powder to blow him up." 
After a time of silent puffing Mac went on: 
"All I don't like about it is this: Smith is sick and 

Grant isnothere; he's sixteen miles away down the river 

at Savannah, on the east bank, organizing the new ar- 
rivals." 

"He's go. his mind set on attacking Corinth." 
"That's what's the matter." [Puff, puff, puff.] 
"Now, Mac, suppose you were Albert Sidney Johnson 

and P. G. T. Beauregard, and knew as much as you know 

now, what would you do?" 

"Depends, Captain, on what else I knew, wliich I don't 

know now — the condition of my own forces. But if — if, 

I say — I had anything like a good fighting army — " 



264 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

"Well, what then?" 

"I'd attack this town-meeting-camp-meeting-country- 
fair so quick it would make your head swim." 

"But suppose you were U. S. Grant, and knew we 
were going to be attacked — what would you do?" 

"Oh, I'd fix on a line somewhere and throw up some 
little breast-works, and a few redoubts pierced for field- 
pieces here and there, so that the boys would at least 
know where they are expected to fight; whether they really 
do fight or half-fight there or not." 

Will picked up his well-worn "Army Regulations" and 
read aloud: 

"'Section 643. Unless the army be acting on the de- 
fensive, no post should be intrenched.' " 

"Ya-as, I know old Section 643 by heart, and I'd make 
a special intrenchment expressly to bury Section 643 in." 

"What do you suppose was the object of 643?" 

"Oh, the cuss sitting in his office writing that thought 
we fellers out in the open would get fat and lazy if we 
weren't kept always on the anxious scat. He never 
served in the line, I'll bet a hat. Many's the fight he 
never fought in, and none at all that he did." 

"No danger of the front line men getting pursy and 
plethoric to any great extent." 

"Naw! Takes a bureau-officer for that. Fact is, ever- 
lasting watchfulness gets to mean no watchfulness at all; 
it's calling 'Wolf, wolf!' where there isn't any wolf. 
Sleep when you can, / say, so as to be able to keep awake 
when you must. If you want to be up bright and early 
in the morning you don't want to be called the night be- 
fore." 

"I suppose the book-writer thought the men would 
complain of the pick-and-shovel work." 

"Ah, yah! Ask 'em! I'm not particularly timid, nor 



FORWARD TO SHILOH. 265 

do I love hard work overmuch; but I never worked so 
hard or so fast or so willing as I have when I was piling 
up a little dirt to stand behind when the enemy was in 
front. And it's so with every living man I ever set eyes 
on! Why, men will stand twice as long and twice as 
steady behind a lath fence that wouldn't stop a snow-ball, 
as they will in the open." 

"I've heard our men laugh at McClellan for 'a dirt- 
shoveler,' as the newspapers called him." 

"Capt'n Fargeon, that was before our men ever smelt 
powder, I guess. You mark a line on the ground and 
say, 'Boys, you'll fight there; now do as you've a mind 
to about building breast-works,' and what do you think 
will happen?" 

Will laughed. "I think / should begin hunting picks 
and shovels myself; so I suppose others would too." 

"Yes, sir! Or bayonets, musket-butts, rails, branches, 
tin-cups, dinner-plates, caps, shoes, feet, fists, fingers 
and finger-nails, if they couldn't find picks and shovels!" 

"The breast-work would suit everybody but the enemy, 
I should think." 

"If I were little Mac, I'd glory in the name of the 
dirt-shoveler. The newspaper fighters — back in their solid 
brick walls — may laugh and jeer, but you watch and see 
what the rank and file of the army in the field thinks of 
McClellan." 

"I'd rather make a very big pile of dirt than a very 
little puddle of blood." [A long, smoky pause.] "But, 
Mac, what makes us talk and feel as if there were death 
in the air? " 

"I don't know. Captain." 

"Don't you suppose the outside service is being suffi- 
ciently attended to?" 

"It never is that." 



255 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

"Why not?" 

"Oh, it's such hard work. You get out your regiment 
and march five or ten miles along a blind road— see noth- 
ing, hear nothing, learn nothing — and get back tired out, 
cussing the fool's errand, as it seems to have been." 

"Yet it's just what you vi^anted to know — that there is 
nobody there." 

"Yes, of course. Then another time, perhaps, you 
come to a clump of trees; bang, bang-bang-bang — bang; a 
man killed and two wounded. You deploy and push 
ahead, and never see or hear of another reb all day." 

"Why not deploy first?" 

"You can't make even five miles out and back in a day 
deployed. It's work that ought to he done by cavalry." 

"Well, why isn't it?" 

"Oh — you know our cavalry.^' (The sneering tone of 
the last word bespoke at once the veteran and the foot- 
soldier.) "I saw a regiment come in last night — mud 
hardly up to the horses' bellies, even with the roads as 
they are — and they swore they'd been out ten miles on 
the Corinth road and not seen a reb! Why, if they'd 
been oMi five miles you couldn't have told 'em from a 
herd of elephants for the mud they'd have picked up. 
Now s'pose they sent Grant the same story, whether true 
or not, and he believed them, that confirmed him in his 
idea that we have nothing to do but get ready to march 
on Corinth when Buel joins," 

"Maybe that's the fact." 

"Ya-as. Maybe. But I wish Grant were here. Hang 
the cavalry! One infantry regiment is worth 'em all. 
And one regiment in every ten of us ought to be out 
reconnoitering every day. Then in ten days we should 
all have been out, and the first ones would be ready to 



FORWARD TO SHILOH. 



267 



go out again. But I haven't heard of an3'body in our 
division going out." 

"I heard Sherman started up some rebs and had a 
lively time." 

"Yes? Well, Sherman is a good officer. I'm glad 
somebody is looking out for things." 




CHAPTER XXII. 

THE SIXTH AT THE BATTLE OF SHILOH. 




\_SCENE. — A group of me?i in K^ s coinpany 
street, gathered about a smaller group seated 
on the groimd, playing cards on a blanket 
spread over their knees. Many are munching 
the last of their breakfast as they stand.'\ 

Tolliver (aside to Chipstone and Cobb 
on his right) — "Now's our chance." 
(Aloud) — "Say, fellers, I'm tired of eu- 
chre. Tell ye what, I'll teach ye a new 
game. We call it 'Hog' where I come 
from. Who wants to learn hog?" 
^//_"We all do." 

Tolliver — "Well, I deal the cards round (does so), and 
then each man passes one card to his left-hand neighbor. 
Each man picks out his suit, and when we've gone 
seven times round we show down and see who's 
got the best hand in any suit." [Passes a card to Cale 
Dugong on his left, and the game proceeds.] 

Dugong (much excited) — "Golly, that runs good! Bet 
ye I'll lay over the crowd." 

Tolliver (after a few moments) — "Thar, boys; that's 
seven. Now show down." 

Dugong— "Y{:\\ What'd I tell ye? Ace, king, jack, an' 
ten o' di'm'ns and four little ones! Who kin beat that?" 
Tolliver— "T\vz.\: s so, Caleb. (Rising.) Boys, that 
settles it— Dugong is the biggest hog in Company K." 

26S 



THE SIXTH AT THE BATTLE OF SHILOH. 269 

The loud chorus of guffaws at Dugong's expense is 
mingled with the distant sound of scattered shots. The 
captain and lieutenants have just finished their break- 
fast and are enjoying the usual peaceful smoke — at least 
they are all smoking, and two of them are enjoying it. 

"Hello, Mac! What's all this? Somebody else is re- 
connoitering I guess." For the sharp, untimely musketry 
persists in making itself heard from the outposts. Mac 
looks glum and anxious. He hurries up all the morning 
operations with asperity and profanity not usual with 
him. 

"Eat what you can, boys; dammit, eat a bite and shove 
the rest into your haversacks. One man from every tent 
run and loosen the tent-pegs. Get your blankets rolled up 
quicker' n chain-lightning; do you hear me? Captain, don't 
you think it would be a good plan to step up to regi- 
mental headquarters and get our orders? I'll have your 
orderly stow your things ready for breaking camp. I 
suppose we shall get everything into the wagons in short 
order — we ought to! Musketry as near as that, and we 
caught with our breeches down!" 

Will, taking some food in one hand and a mug of cof- 
fee in the other, walks rapidly toward the colonel's tent. 

"Only an affair of the outposts, Captain Fargeon," calls 
Colonel Isaacs as soon as he comes within hearing. 

"Well, Colonel, if you'll allow me to say so, there are 
two whole brigades between us and that firing, so the 
enemy must be at close quarters already. My men are 
packing up, expecting the wagons. Lieutenant McClin- 
tock feels very uneasy." 

"Mac thinks it serious, does he? Well, we'll be on 
the safe side". Then he orders the regimental quarter- 
master (much against his will) to have the wagons pre- 
pared for instant use; and sends his staff to each com- 



270 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

pany street to hasten the preparations for a move. No 
orders have come from brigade headquarters, so he hesi- 
tates absolutely to strike the tents; short of that every- 
thing is put in complete readiness. 

The rattle of musketry becomes more and more steady 
and continuous. Scattered men without muskets begin 
straggling down the road toward the rear. 

"We belong to the — th. The rebs got onto us while 
we was eating. Our muskets was all stacked on the 
color line, and we didn't even git to the stacks at all — 
the Johnnies got thar fust. We just had to scoot. 
That's the second brigade that's doin' the firin'. We 
didn't git to fire a shot." 

Even while the man talked the road is growing fuller 
and fuller of fugitives; here and there a wagon or am- 
bulance, but chiefly infantr3'-men walking or running to- 
ward the river. 

"Strike tents!" shouts Colonel Isaacs; and inlittlemore 
time than it takes to pen these lines Company K's street 
ceases to be a street; it is nothing but a flood of v/rink- 
ling canvas and flying tent-poles; while in the uncovered 
homes may be descried pitiful remains of all the usual 
little devices for comfort and amusement — leafy beds, 
seats, checker-boards, extempore tables, and so forth. 
K's wagon is loaded almost as soon as the other streets 
have fairly fallen to the ground. 

A few moments later an aide appears from brigade 
headquarters and in a consequential tone reports: 

"General Blank's compliments, and would thank Colo- 
nel Isaacs to say by whose orders he has struck his 
tents." 

"Be kind enough to say to General Blank," replied the 
quick-witted colonel, "that I am drilling my men in the 
rapid striking of camp and loading of wagons." 



THE SIXTH AT THE BATTLE OF SHILOH. 27I 

"Very well, sir!" rejoins the pompous aide, and he 
disappears, seemingly unconscious of the half-smothered 
laugh that follows him. 

Many hundreds of unarmed men have now drifted past 
the Sixth, all telling the same story. Their officers are 
with them, but do not try to halt them, unarmed as they 
are. Now begins to come a different class: men carry- 
ing muskets, men who have done some fighting before 
they gave way; wounded men in ambulances and on foot, 
and unhurt men helping back the wounded — or, as Mac 
explains it, wounded men helping back the unhurt, by 
giving them an excuse (a bad one) for running away. 

Still that rising and approaching rattle of musketry; 
still the utter absence of any orders from general head- 
quarters. The distant sound of cannon has been heard 
some time; now comes the welcome thunder of a battery 
which has opened fire from our own side, and a loud 
"Heigh!" runs along the brigade front. 

The next new, noticeable feature is the appearance of 
stragglers direct from the firing line; not walking on the 
road, but straggling back through woods, fields, camps — 
anywhere where panic and cowardice can find a loop-hole 
of escape. The first one who comes within reach of 
Company K is seized and hauled away to the regimental 
guard-house, with the cheerful assurance from Mac that 
he shall be shot at sunset. But a threat to him does not 
deter others, and they begin to come back in droves. 

"Sound the long roll!" calls Isaacs quietly. "Captain 
Fargeon, deploy your company as skirmishers a hundred 
paces to the front and halt all unwounded men; make 
them fall into your skirmish line, and let your reserve 
shoot down any man who refuses to stay and fight." 

As the men gather on the color line in response to the 
long roll, they see the other regiments in the brigade bur- 



272 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

riedly striking tents and scrambling them into wagons as 
best they can. 

Company K "takes intervals on its left file," and 
spreading along before the face of the rest of the regi- 
ment, begins its advance. At every step some wounded 
man is allowed to pass, and some unwounded man is 
forced to stop and join the advance. As a general rule 
they make no objection, and the skirmish line soon be- 
comes almost a solid rank. 

One man refuses to obey Mac's order, saying: 

"Git out of the way! You ain't no officer of mine!" 

Mac whips out his sword. The mutineer lowers his 
musket (bayonet fixed) and cocks it. Why does Mac 
hesitate to rush in and kick the piece aside? It isn't 
like him! The reason is soon evident; he sees Chipstone 
approaching from behind. Chip clubs his musket and 
brings down the stock with a crash on the wretch's head 
and he goes down like a log. Mac calls to Morphy (com- 
manding the reserve) to strap the fellow up to a tree, fac- 
ing the front, and in that horrible position he recovers his 
senses; his curses, prayers, and groans fill the air and 
make the management of other fugitives an easy matter. 
They all take the hint and join the ranks of the fighters. 

But what is the halting of a few score among the vast 
mass of retreating men who now fill the space? They pass 
in swarms to right and left of the steady rank of the 
skirmishers, in a seemingly endless and limitless throng. 
They all tell the same story. 

"The hull rebel army came down on us. We was 
flanked both sides; an' we fit until they begun to fire 
onto us from right an' left an' behind." 

By this time the road has become a pandemonium of 
flying forces. Wagons go galloping in the rear in a nearly 
continuous stream, while twice there comes a yet more 



THE SIXTH AT THE BATTLE OF SHILOH. 273 

harrowing sight — the flight of caissons, forge and battery 
wagon ; but no limbers and no cafuion! The guns are lost 
— they may be turned on us already, and be swelling that 
advancing roar; be sending the very shells which we see 
bursting in the sky, making tiny white cloudlets that 
spring into sight, so beautiful and so appalling! 

K soon finds itself supported on right and left by skir- 
mish lines from the brother regiments of its brigade — an 
inexpressible comfort, especially as the fugitives now 
are fewer; they are coming on the run, and not after the 
manner of skulkers who have fled with scarcely an effort, 
all of which indicates that the next people they may expect 
will be the enemy. Already bullets have made themselves 
heard and even felt, for one of the fellows who had fallen 
back, ttius far without a scratch, now has a serious 
wound to justify his going the rest of the way. 

"Why, Mark, where' s your sling?" 

-"In me focket, Caftain. I can hould me fiece fretty 
fair, ye see, on me elbow." 

"Oh, well, my boy — you needn't have come out to-day." 

**! didn't intind to, Caftain, but when 1 sor ye start — " 
A nod, silent but expressive, fills out the speech with a 
thrilling eloquence. 

The last Union men are coming in now, chiefly helping 
badly wounded officers and soldiers whom they have not 
the heart to leave to the tender mercies of the foe. 

Fargeon has the right flank, Mac the left, and Morphy 
the reserve. 

"Mac!" calls Will, "you'll feel 'em first. What will 
you do, and what do you want us to do? Give your or- 
ders — have 'em passed along, and we'll fall in with 'em." 

"All right. Captain Fargeon," comes back in Mac's 
cheerful, sonorous, reassuring drawl. "We could take care 
of a whole regiment with this line of men, but we'll just 
i8 



274 "^^^ CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

fire one volley and then give the rest of the army a 
chance. We don't want to be hoggish!" 

A laughing "Heigh!" greets this quip, and Mac goes on: 

"Now, men, when you see 'em coming, fire one shot 
apiece, then run back. Don't stop again; get back to 
your place in our own line as fast as Goddlemity'li let 
ye. Recollect, the regiment can't fire till you get out 
of the way." 

Suddenly firing begins in the Union line far to the left 
of K's position, and rapidly extends in its direction. 
Mac's place is the most ticklish; and high above the din 
can be heard that well-known drawl: 

"Let the Forty-fifth boys shoot at nothing all they've 
a mind to! We'll show 'em that Company K can hold 
its water! No man fire till I give the word. You hear 
me?" 

So the firing from our side extends up to where Mac 
stands and there stops for a considerable time, while 
dead silence reigns all along the front of Company K and its 
forced allies. Fargeon stands in miserable suspense wait- 
ing for a word from Mac, and peering into the impene- 
trable leafage before him. Ha! What is that? A sway- 
ing of the bushes? Why doesn't Mac open fire? Shall 
he do it without waiting? Where zV Mac, anyway? Why, 
that is Mac out in front! He has been reconnoitering, 
and now is backing slowly and softly toward the kneel- 
ing line, which parts to let him through, and he resumes 
his place on the left. 

"Hang you, Mac! We might have shot you to pieces!" 

"Oh, the boys knew I was there. I went out on pur- 
pose to hold them steady." 

Now the wild yell of the enemy is audible, beginning 
far away on the left and spreading toward them. Now 
it is directly in front, and Mac speaks — drawls out: 



::v^-'t 



i^^ 




275 



276 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

"When I give the word, fire low — fire at their knees — 
you hear me?" (All he says is passed along the line.) 

The yell becomes nearer and more plain; but the enemy 
is saving his powder. A movement in the underbrush 
is perceptible, a glimpse of butternut shows here and 
there, three or four scattering shots are heard, and the 
bullets go whizzing by. 

"FIRE!" 

More than a hundred muskets ring out their death-deal- 
ing cry (fully half of them being in the hands of the 
forced "recruits"), and the yell in their immediate front 
suddenly stops. The enemy has something else to 
think of, and probably imagines that this level, deliberate, 
destructive volley comes from a line of battle, not from 
a mere skirmish-line. 

'Back, boys!" (No drawl now.) "Stoop down and 
run for your lives! But don't leave any wounded! Pick 
up every man that gets hit; you hear me?" 

An irregular volley comes in response to theirs, mostly 
passing over their heads. One man (a stranger) goes 
down, but he is killed, and they leave him. The. strapped- 
up mutineer falls to begging again for his life. 

'Oh, Lieutenant — for God's sweet sake don't leave me 
here! I didn't mean nothing. My gun wasn't loaded — 
there it lays — you can see for yourself?" 

"vVill you behave yourself!" 

"I'll fight for you as long as there's breath left in my 
body if you'll only take me along." 

Mac, after glancing at the musket and seeing that it 
was not capped, loosens the belt that held the fellow 
and tells him to pick up his cap and gun and fall in with 
the rest. As soon as his hand is free he begins to rub 
the lump on his head — tries to put on his cap — gives 
it up and puts it in his haversack instead. 



THE SIXTH AT THE BATTLE OF SHILOH. 277 

Bullets have been dropping among Morphy's men, and 
two have to be helped back. Soon all are in their places 
on the color line, Company K taking more room than it 
had ever filled before since it came out. Isaacs comes 
down the line and congratulates Will and the rest, and 
gleans what news they have to give. When tliey ask 
him about things in the rear, he only answers by an 
expressive shake of the head. Then they are once more 
alone. 

One of the strangers leaves the line and runs toward 
the road. Mac draws his pistol and fires a snap shot 
after him — the fellow gives a yell of either pain or tri- 
umph, and runs faster than ever. 

"I'll drop the next one!" said Mac, audibly but quietly; 
and no next one tried the experiment. 

The interval of quiet is so long that the captain and 
first lieutenant, passing along the rear of their line, stop 
a moment together. 

"Captain, what would you think of a little breast-work 
along about now?" 

"Well, Mac, I was once worth a good deal over a 
hundred thousand dollars; and if I had it now, I would 
give every cent of it for a ditch two feet deep with a bank 
two feet high on the far side." 

"A hundred dollars a foot is a good deal of money for 
a little thing we might just as well have had for nothing; 
but it would be worth it." 

The ground is mostly clear of trees for a quarter mile 
or more in front of the color line, and across this space 
and into the woods beyond all eyes are anxiously looking. 

Just now some movement is noticeable on the right 
rear of the Sixth. A battery of artillery swings grandly 
into position there and unlimbers for action — six fierce 
muzzles pointing terribly toward the foe. The horses 



278 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

are quickly unhitched and trotted clattering out of sight 
to the rear. 

Will sees Mac look at the battery with unusual interest, 
finally using his field-glass to examine its guidons and 
other distinguishing features. 

"What is it, Mac?" 

"Captain Fargeon, those are regulars. That is a bat- 
tery of the Fourth United States Artillery — and I feel as 
if I ought to raise my hat as I name the regiment." 

Suddenly, from the woods in front, come puffs of 
smoke and a second later the reports of muskets, mingled 
with the shrill whistle of bullets. 

"Now watch the guns!" cries Mac, regardless of the 
enemy's fire. 

On the instant six terrific roars burst from the six 
field-pieces, each gun giving a frantic leap backward as 
the flame spouts from its throat. 

Before the sound ceases the shells can be heard explod- 
ing in the opposite woods and the branches of trees be seen 
dropping to the ground, while the musketry stops utterly. 

"Ha, ha! Johnny Reb ! How does those pills suit 
your complaint?" 

"But, Mac, it's only the musket that means business, you 
know. " 

"No — well — 3'es. But take a battery served like that, 
and — well, I'd full as lief have it on my side as against 
me." And Mac walks gayly back to his post on the left. 

After a second round the battery ceases firing, the Con- 
federate musketry in the immediate front having sud- 
denly stopped and the distant woods grown as silent as a 
forest primeval. No sign of life in sight, except two 
buzzards circling lazily about high in air, floating with 
motionless wings — waiting, waiting. Their patience will 
be rewarded. 



THE SIXTH AT THE BATTLE OF SKILOH. 279 

Meanwhile the distant battle rages to right and left, 
its horrid voice always advancing, and before long an 
aide is seen to gallop up from the rear, speak a few 
words to the battery officers and gallop back. Then the 
battery reopens, and Will says to himself: 

"Thank God! I wonder why they stopped." 



How do men fall in battle? ** 

Forward, as fall other slaughtered animals. Homer 
says, not once, or twice, but often, "Death unstrung his 
limbs." Again: "Then the hero stayed fallen upon his 
knees, and with stout hand leant upon the earth, and the 
darkness of night veiled his eyes." 

As they fall, so they lie, so they die and so they 
stiffen; and all the contortions seen by burial details and 
depicted by Verestschagin and other realistic painters 
are the natural result of the removal of bodies which 
have fallen with faces and limbs to the earth, and grown 
rigid without the rearrangement of "decent burial." 

To learn all these things, one needs only to watch 
Company K through this day, Sunday, April 6, 1862. 
Then one must pause to remind himself that war did 
not invent death; nor does even blessed peace prevent it. 

"War is a game which, were their subjects wise, 
Kings would not play at." — Coiv/>er. 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

BATTLE AND MURDER AND SUDDEN DEATH. 

HE battery was quickly enveloped in its 
own smoke, through which were dimly visi- 
ble hurrying forms, wildly waving ram- 
mers and great spouts of flame at 
each discharge. Again the great roars 
burst out, and again, and again; and 
each explosion was sharp, ear-hurting, 
cruel. Not the grand, soul-stirring 
report and roll of a thunder-clap or a 
cannon afar off, but a noise, physically 
painful and abhorrent. 

Will's mind sought relief from the 
dreadful tension of waiting for battle 
by straying off to untimely vagaries. 
"That hideous sound is the sweet- 
est music my ears ever listened to. No mother's lullaby 
to a frightened child was ever more comforting, consol- 
ing, soothing. How wretched must one be when that com- 
forts him! Well, I am wretched! I am a miserable 
man — unhappy, low-spirited, despairing — in view of the 
things which this day has in store. This long, dreadful 
day! How hellishly they are fighting over there toward 
our left! Musketry and artillery — it certainly seems 
further back than we are! But so long as our immediate 
neighbors are on our line, we must stand fast and sup- 
port our battery, as Mac says. 

280 




BATTLE AND MURDER AND SUDDEN DEATH. 201 

"That's right, gunners! Fire fast — make a wall of iron 
against them! Don't let your music stop an instant — 
shut out that rattle from the left! A man must be falling 
there with every tick of the clock. Oh, when will our 
turn come? Load and fire, gunners, load and fire — and 
God bless you for it! " 

Mac approached again. 

' Those battery-men are doing wrong, and they know 
it! I'll bet my life that some fool brigadier-general is 
at the bottom of it — shooting away all their ammunition 
at nothing under God's Heaven but gopher-holes and 
birds' nests." 

"Why, Mac, I was just wishing they would go on all 
day and prevent the rebels from coming across that open 
space at all." 

"Oh, they can't do that. Amount of it will be that the 
rebs will bring up two or three batteries to silence them; 
then they can't help us when we need it. They ought to 
lie low now till the Johnnies show themselves again." 

"Maybe they are told to keep firing for the sake of the 
moral effect on our men." 

"Like enough. But I'd rather hold 'em for a physical 
effect on the other fellers." 

They separated, much to Will's regret, for he loved 
to lean on Mac's cool strength and forgetfulness of dan- 
ger. And then, too, the accurate instinct of the lieu- 
tenant made his captain now look with dread for an artil- 
lery attack directed against the laboring battery — and he 
did not have to look long before it came. 

Several reports in rapid though irregular succession 
sounded from the far front, and missiles came plunging 
over, all evidently meant for the battery, but some of 
them straying far enough to make the neighborhood very 
uncomfortable for the Sixth Illinois. 



2«2 



THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 



"How under Heaven can the battery-men stand that 
dreadful storm? Oh, don't! Oh, don't/ Look what you 
are doing!" he added aloud, apostrophizing the enemy. 
A moment after uttering this childish supplication. 
Will saw the full absurdity of it, and could have laughed 
out at himself if he could have laughed at anything. 

The sound of galloping came from the rear. Will 
looked back and saw a riderless horse, with artillery 
harness on, coming toward him at full speed. He tried 
to stop the craz}^ brute, but it only swerved, and rushed 

on. As it passed he 
saw a rent in its side. 
A passed shell must 
have reached the place 
where the battery 
horses were held. 

"Look out! Look 
out, men!" Too late. 
The beast dashed 
blindly through Com- 
pany K. Three men 
went down; one got 
up and recovered his 
musket; one sat up and pressed his hand to his side; one 
lay still whsre he fell. 

"Stand fast, men! Sia/ui fast!" shouted Mac, restrain- 
ing the overwhelming instinct of humanity to fly to the 
succor of a brother in distress. 

"Sarg'nt Chipstone, take a file of men and bring those 
wounded here to me; then get back to your places." 
Then, turning to the rear, he called: "Litter-bearers, 
this way!" 

One man, with ribs probably splintered, was helped 
back. But poor Harry Planter, just out of the hospital, 




BATTLE AND MURDER AND SUDDEN DEATH. 283 

was past help. His back was broken. Twice hit, both 
times from the rear, and his task was done. 

The horse, on getting into the open place, stopped 
and looked about him, showing no consciousness of his 
wound except by ceaselessly brushing that side with 
his tail. 

"Tolliver, " said Mac, 'see if you can fetch him." 
(Tolliver was a famous marksman.) While he was 
kneeling, waiting for the victim to present a favorable 
shot, the horse began to nibble at the herbage at his feet. 

Will thought, "What a God's blessing it is to be 
without imagination!" 

Tolliver' s piece rang out. 

"Missed him!" 

"Missed him, did I?" cried Tolliver with sarcastic in- 
tonation while he reloaded his piece. At the same time 
the beast began to turn about as if on a pivot, and 
presently went down with a resounding thud. "Missed 
him right through the brain behind the eyes." 



The battery, by irresistible impulse, had now turned its 
fire away from the point whence infantry was to be ex- 
pected, and toward the artillery which was raining shell 
and schrapnel upon it. This left the opposite woods 
unmolested, and bullets began to come from there in 
deadly numbers. A good many of the Sixth's men had 
been carried back; and murmurs began to be heard. 

"For God's sake, let us shoot, or lie down, or some- 
thing!" 

Lieut. -Colonel Isaacs, anxious for both the honor and 
safety of his regiment, came down to its left flank to 
hear what K's officers had to say. Mac spoke: 

"Only one objection to lying down — that is that the 
men are almost sure to fire high. If you can stop that — " 



284 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

"We'll do it. Lie down, boys, and mind what I'm go- 
ing to tell you. Don't fire till I tell you, and then fire 
at the enemy's feet. Every man of you, try to put his 
bullet into the toe of a reb's boot! Tit for tat, and 
something to boot!" 

Down went the company, officers and men, glad of the 
relief. Isaacs hurried along the line, repeating his or- 
ders, so that every man was sure to hear them. But the 
brave commander, now the most conspicuous; mark, was 
soon laid Ic^w with a disabling wound; and then the group 
that gathered to help him off lost a man — killed stone 
dead. The major, stunned by the situation, seemed to 
have nothing to say, and the long line of gray coats now 
came into plain though distant view, advancing over 
the open space. Few of the men knew that the lieu- 
tenant-colonel was hurt, and all anxiously awaited his 
order to begin firing, as the regiments to right and left 
were doing. 

At last Mac Jeaped to his feet and ran to where the 
major was squatting behind a slight rise of ground. 

"Shall we open fire, sir?" 

The major nodded dumbly, and Mac walked back along 
the line. 

"Boys" (drawling), "if you're going to fire high, you 
can't fire at all; but if you'll aim low, wh)^, then let 'em 
have it, and God have mercy on their damned souls." 

The last words were inaudible in the volley that fol- 
lowed ; probably one of the most destructive ever deliv- 
ered by any six hundred men since the war began. The 
advancing enemy fairly withered away. Like ripe fruit 
when the gust first strikes the tree dropped the hurt, 
and like leaves before the wind fled the unhurt. 

When the fugitives had melted into the woods again, 
the firing recommenced; evidently from a supporting 



BATTLE AND MURDER AND SUDDEN DEATH. 285 

line which would soon repeat the assault. Mac did not 
lie dov/n again, but came to where Will crouched, saying: 

"Major Colemason is rattled, and there is practically 
nobody in command. You must take it if nobody else 
does. " 

"Get down, Mac! Get down! You won't? Then I'll 
have to get up, though I hate to. There! Now, where' s 
Chafierty? Where are all the other captains who rank 
me?" 

"Blessed if I know. But somebody's got to take 
charge of this regiment. We may have to advance or 
retreat; and when we do it ought to be by crders, and 
not by accident. God knows what's become of brigade 
headquarters. " 

"Well, Mac, look out for the company, and I'll go 
and see what can be done. If I take charge nominally, 
you've got to have it really. Don't, I beg of you, don't 
expose yourself needlessly!" 

Mac disdained to reply, but walked slowly up to take 
the captain's place on the right flank, and stood there 
erect, watching the point where the enemy must be 
forming, under cover of their own smoke, for a deter- 
mined advance. 

Fargeon found the ranking captain, and together they 
visited the group surrounding the stunned major, includ- 
ing the adjutant and two of the staff, crouching together. 

"Major Colemason, the enemy is massing for another 
charge. Have you any orders to give?" 

The poor fellow (who had always done well in all 
subordinate capacities) had nothing to say. He was too 
dazed either to command or to abdicate, and the two 
captains returned to their companies, through a scatter- 
ing drive (not a storm) of bullets. Fargeon had well- 
nigh forgotten them; and again his mind wandered off 



286 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

on trivial things. He wondered what time it was; and 
found that he could not guess — could not remember 
whether it was morning or afternoon, and whether his 
last meal, which seemed a month ago, had been breakfast, 
dinner, or supper. There were the enemy, visible and 
advancing. There stood Mac like a statue; there lay the 
dead and wounded who had been dragged back, and there 
lay Company K awaiting orders to open fire. 

Lacking the restraining force of their commander, the 
Sixth began firing earlier than before, and, of cou-se, 
less effectively. The brave enemy continued to come 
on, firing as the}' came. But the charging rank, partly 
through wounds and partly through defections, grew thin- 
ner and thinner; and its proportionate losses grew larger 
as there were fewer left to fire at. 

Human nature could not stand it, and the foe at last 
wavered, halted, and turned back, leaving some of their 
fallen within what seemed only fifty paces of our front. 
Then, again, the absence of a restraining head worked 
ill for the Sixth. The men, unmindful of flank or rear, 
regardless of the absence of orders, jumped up with a 
hurrah and pursued the retreating line until it passed 
through and unmasked a solid brigade with loaded 
muskets, which met our force with a burst of fire that sent 
us reeling back in turn. We had a score or two of prison- 
ers, wounded and unwounded; but almost a tenth of our 
brave fellows were laid low by that first volley or by the 
losses in the retreat. Most of our wounded — all who were 
not obviously past help — were lugged back b}' their com- 
rades, some of whom were hit in the act of helping 
others. With difficulty were the flying men halted at 
their own color line; but Company K having set them 
the example (its officers calling "Halt, Company K! 
Steady, men! Steady!"), the others either stopped on 



BATTLE AND MURDER AND SUDDEN DEATH. 287 

the line or came back to it after drifting a few rods 
beyond. 

As Fargeon recovered his breath and his pulse slowed 
down, thought resumed its mastery over feeling. 

"Wholesale slaughter is less dreadful than retail kill- 
ing. A dozen of my good friends — besides scores of 
men whom I know by sight — are dead or dying around 
me; and I am less affected than I should be by seeing 
any one of them Ijnng there alone. Tolliver, the wit — 
he's gone. Those expressive brows will move nevermore 
while the world turns round. So i s Aleck Thrush — that 
leaves the old mother with no son, those girls with no 
brother. Jeff Cobb is among the wounded. If Jeff goes 
under, what will the boys do for a laugh in their dreariest 
hours, without him to turn sufferings into drolleries? 
Oh, is there no God in Heaven.^*" 

Now came cries from the right. 

"Lie do.vn, men! Lie flat down! The battery is 
going to fire over you!" 

Down they went; lying closer from their friends' fire 
than they had from their enemies'. Even the gravest 
situations have their ludicrous side, and here was wound- 
ed Jeff Cobb's chance. He called from his lying place 
among the wounded : 

"Say, fellers, I'll bet you can find this spot a year 
from nov/ by the line of holes your noses are rooting in 
the ground." 

A smothered laugh greeted the suggestion, and each 
man with a prominent or peculiar organ was congratu- 
lated with the promise of being able to identify his spot. 

In sober earnest, it was a most trying experience. The 
shriek of the missiles which were passing over from be- 
hind them was indescribably appalling, and there was 
constant apprehension that a shell with imperfect fuse 



288 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

might Durst directly above our lines. Even short of 
this disaster there was the constant, vicious rain of 
fragments of the "sabots" or wooden sockets in which 
shells and schrapnel are encased; which give severe 
bruises, though not often dangerous wounds. All of the 
wounded whose hurts permitted it walked toward the 
rear; but the rest were left lying there, no stretchers 
having been available for a long, long time. * 

Company K, and indeed the whole left of the regi- 
ment, was comparatively out of the line of our artillery 
fire, which passed directly over the right flank; and Mc- 
Clintock continued to stand coolly erect. Presently he 
walked over to where Fargeon lay. 

"The Johnnies are still coming. Captain." 

"What!" cried Will, rising on his elbow. "Coming on 
through that hell-fire?" 

"Ya-as. The shells are bursting mostly be3'ond them." 

"Why don't we try grape and canister?" 

"They aren't quite near enough for canister — couldn't 
fire it over our own men, anyhow — and we don' t use grape- 
shot now except in the navy," 

"Why, the newspapers always talk about 'grape and 
canister.'" 

"That shows how much they know of what they're 
talking about. ' 

Fargeon got upon his feet, 

"Mac, suppose we let K open fire. We seem safe here 
from our artillery." 

"Just what I'm thinking of. K and I, and maybe H, 
might do some good. If K sets the example it'll 
spread. We' re bound to support our artillery, orders or no 
orders. And I'm afraid (with an anxious look toward our 
left)that the battery ought to be getting back now, by the 
way the firing seems to be drifting past us over there. 




C/3 



289 



ago THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

But good Lord! if the old Fourth gets no order to go, 
they'll stay there till the last man falls." 

As he walked back to his place he said, »in his own 
bantering tone: 

"Boys, what's the matter with your raising up jest 
enough to see the rebs, and send 'em your cards and 
then git down again to load? But fire slow and fire low. 
You hear me?" 

Permission was all the boys wanted, and a rattling 
volley burst from their front. Whether it killed or not, 
it had one valuable effect — that of diverting part of the 
enemy's fire from the battery (which had been catching 
it all) to the direction of Company K. Several hun- 
dred confederate muskets responded to the sixty or sev- 
enty pieces which were all the effectives K now pos- 
sessed (even including its impressed men), and the con- 
centration, together with the battery fire, was very 
severe; more so than any previous experience that Will 
had met with. Two men in Company K, after a startled 
shock and a cry, clambered up and made their way rear- 
ward; one gave the cry — but lay still, half turned on his 
side, his knees drawn up. Fargeon, stooping, started 
over to get from dear, splendid, glorious Mac, either 
relief or strength to bear the strain. 

"Mac must have dropped his pipe; he is looking down 
for something. There, he is stooping for it — he is on 
his knees feeling for it — he is on his face! Oh, my God! 
Oh, GOD in HEAVEN!" 

No one but Will had seen Mac fall. No one else saw 
the rent in the back of his collar where the bullet had 
came out; no one helped turn him over; then a shriek 
from the grief-stricken captain brought others to his aid. 

Fruitless the care that dragged the fallen hero a little 
aside. When they laid flat his broad shoulders his fine head 



BATTLE AND MURDER AND SUDDEN DEATH. 29I 

fell back and showed the deadly wound — sheer through 
the neck, a little to the right of the windpipe. The 
brave eyes were already sightless, though the jaw had 
not yet dropped and the breath was still feebly passing. 

Will fell upon his knees and bowed his breast on the 
shoulder of his friend. His lips sought the cruel lacera- 
tion, whence red blood was slowly oozing, warm, saltish, 
and sickening. He leaped to his feet, and his voice 
called the name of the Deity — the name and some of the 
merciful attributes. Certain men of the awe-struck 
group thought he uttered a prayer; others — those near- 
est him — thought that his words were a blasphemous 
denial of his God and abjuration of his cherished faith. 

He faced the bullets, coming thick and fast, and made 
as if he would rush at the enemy for revenge and death. 
But in his path were crouched, loading and firing, the sol- 
diers of Company K — the great lieutenant's fellow-sol- 
diers — now reduced almost to a single rank. 

Mac's voice seemed to reach his ears; to whisper to 
him, drawling through the uproar: 

"Duty first; then death. You hear me?" 

A sudden calm fell upon him. Mac's spirit entered his 
breast. He walked slowly along the line, saying in 
almost Mac's tone: 

"Fire slow and fire low, boys. Fire slow and fire low." 

He came to where Morphy was crouching, and heard 
him ask: 

"Is it true. Captain?" 

"Yes, Barney. Go over and take his place." 

Scarcely had the second lieutenant got to the flank 
when he shouted back: 

"Captain! Captain! The other regiment is gone 
from our left." 

Fargeon hurried back. Not a man was to be seen on 



292 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

that part of our line. He cried piteously, with tears in 
his tones: 

"Oh, Mac! Mac! What shall I do?" But the beloved 
voice was silent. 

A litter had come, and two litter-bearers, assisted by 
two of Company K's men, were placing Mac's body on 
it. When the litter started for the rear Will observed 
that his two soldiers were going with it. 

"Come back! Come back here, you cowards! Take 
your places in the ranks." 

One returned; the other, Dugong, pretended not to 
hear, but kept ahead of the litter, prepared to break 
into a run if followed. 

"Dugong! Caleb Dugong! " He could have shot him 
through the heart without a pang. 

"I will stop being myself. I will be Mac. Let me see 
— let me see — the last thing he said was 'we must sup- 
port our battery.' No, after that he said 'the battery 
ought to be getting back.' That is my law." 

He ran to the battery, now almost silenced by the 
deadly musketry, though one gun-squad seemed to be 
still working, sending its isolated missiles. 

"Captain! Officer in command!" 

"The captain and lieutenants are all killed or wounded- 
I am the sarg'nt in command. What do you want?" 

"Get your battery back, for God's sake! We've got 
to go! " 

"Very well, sir," 

Then he saw the surviving artillery-men — splendid 
veteran soldiers — seize the prolonges and begin to pull 
the guns back by hand toward where the horses were 
held. He ran to where he had seen the major and 
adjutant, but failed to find them. He ran along the line 
of the Sixth, shouting: 



BATTLE AND MURDER AND SUDDEN DEATH. 293 

"All our men are gone from the left of Company K. 

The battery is going. Let us get back in good order, 

boys, keeping between the enemy and the battery. It 

is all we can do." ["Was that like Mac? I hope so; 

* I hope so."] 

"Retreat! Retreat!" 

The cry traveled along the regimental line faster than 
he did, and Company K had left its place before he got 
there. As he reached the line he observed that one man, 
Ed Ranney, lay still, as if he had not heard the order. 
He ran to him, touched him with his foot and screamed: 
"Retreat, Ed!" — to ears closed in death. Then he fol- 
lowed the rest, but not without a lingering look backward 
and a sob as he tore himself away from his dead friends. 

"Steady, boys! Watch the colors and carry along our 
wounded, and don't go any faster than the flag goes." 
["Was that like Mac?"] 

"Load as you go, boys; and turn and fire when you 
can. Keep even with the colors." ["Was that like 
Mac?"] 

They could easily get away from the enemies in their 
immediate front, but, alas! those on the left (now on 
their right hand) had passed them and were firing at 
them from that side. Friends fell faster and faster; 
it was in vain to tiy to care for them. 

"Drop the wounded and close in toward the flag!" 
["Was that like Mac? Oh, poor Jeff Cobb and the others! 
My God, my God! "] 

As K crowded in toward the center, all order was soon 
lost, and the once glorious Sixth Illinois became a mere 
mob of running men and officers, protecting the flag 
more by the interposition of their bodies than by the 
use of their guns. Will was among the rearmost of the 
unwounded; while behind him came a pitiful, halting 



294 "^^^ CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

few of wounded, growing fewer as the strength gave 
out of one after another, though others were constantly 
dropping under the fire from front and flank. 

The place of honor was with Will in the rear. Those 
who took no chances hurried forward, but the best and 
bravest woLild pause to fire back, while the rest outstrip- 
ped and passed them. Will was gratified — and distressed 
— to observe that these were nearly all his blessed Com- 
pany K men. 

Suddenly the very nearest man to him dropped. It 
was George Friend. George climbed to his feet again — 
or, rather, to his foot — reversed his nuisket, gripped the 
butt, and began a frenzied effort to keep up by prodding 
the ground with the muzzle, and so helping himself nlong. 

"Can you make it, George?" 

"I could. Captain, if it Avasn't for this cursed foot." 
Will looked down — the misshapen member was all awry 
and pointing inward. They were getting isolated — he 
must leave him. 

"Oh, Cap! Ca — an^ t you take me alo — ong?" 

Reverently be it said, there were tears furrowing the 
powder-grime on that brave face as Will saw it for the 
last time on earth. 

Fargeon, running, gripped his own head with both 
hands, crying : 

"Oh, God! I wish I were dead, dead, DEAD!" 

The last word was a scream, but nobody heard it ex- 
cept himself. 



Why can he no longer see plainly? What is this 
shadow they have run into? 

Why — -it is nightfall! He had forgotten there was 
any day or night — any flight of measured time. All 
seemed merged into an awful, hideous eternity. 




CHAPTER XXIV. 

OH, WHERE IS MAC ? 

'he fragments of the Sixth Illinois halted 
behind the first orderly body of troops 
they came to — a fine, large, new Michi- 
\j gan regiment, well posted, cool, brave, 
undismayed by the disasters in their 
neighborhood. When the Sixth got in- 
to line again it showed a little over 
three hundred rank and file; Company K only twenty- 
eight of its own men, all told. The line was only four- 
teen men long! It seemed as if Fargeon on the right 
and Morphy on the left could have touched swords! 
Will set his teeth hard to suppress a sob. 

The pursuit died away with the light, and they heard 
no more of the foe that night. The Michigan men gave 
them some supper — it did not take much to go round 
now, and the boys would rather sleep than eat. Numb, 
dazed, silence and quietude was all they were good for. 
Their own lost and scattered wounded were almost forgot- 
ten. Many a battle-evening has seen a whole army in this 
state; to be hounded, later, by ferocious shrieks from 
the non-combatants (far in the rear) asking: "Why was 
not the battle renewed next morning?" 

Nothing coald be learned of the litter-bearers or of 
Dugong. (It afterward transpired that the latter was one of 
the many thousand "stragglers" who gathered on the shore 
and tried to board the transport steamers and gunboats.) 

295 



2g6 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

The impulse to "ask Mac" kept recurring to Will at 
every turn, and he wandered back and forth like a lost 
soul, his nature struggling between pain and torpor. 

"Caftain, " whispered a low voice in the darkness, 
"I'm afrehd — I smell smoak over thayre. " 

Will started as if he had been shot. Fire? Fire 
among those wounded? Is there no God in Heaven? 
Nothing but a devil? Why — his nostrils seem full of 
the smell of burning grass — or is it only his crazy fancy? 
He cannot tell. 

"Doan't mind, Caftain, dayr. Mebbe it's nothin' at- 
all-at-all — nothin' but the ould fowder-smoak. Noah, 
it's not, flayze God; it's not. But he moight bea-lyin' 
somewheres about thayr yit." 

"Mark! God bless you, Mark! Do you think so?" 

"Well, sorr — there's nothin' loike thryin' — av ye'd 
gimme me lave, an' git me the countersign to come back 
wid, I'd snake along as far as I cud, annyhow. I wud; 
oah, I wud. " 

"Come back in a few minutes, Mark, and we will try." 

Mark pleaded sore to be allowed to go alone, but this 
Will would not hear of; so, after the bivouac grew quiet, 
the two set forth past the outposts, into the shadowy 
golgotha beyond. Dead and wounded were scattered 
sparsely over the plain. A light rain was falling; thus 
the awful fear of fire was relieved, and the living were 
freed from the awful wound-thirst. As Will tramped 
along, grateful for the rain, he thought. "Yes, there is a 
God. Rains are apt to follow battles." But soon the 
hateful question obtruded itself: "Then did no wounded 
Mac ever die in the torments of fire and thirst? Aye, 
thousands! " So does war tamper with Faith. 

"Do you think we're going right, Mark?" 

"Divvle the fayr, Caftain. I remimber thim fallen 



OH, WHERE IS MAC ? 297 

trees wid the underbroosh round 'em. We're all of 
half-way back." 

A little later he added: 

"Here's the shtraym we got wather fiam ferthe camf." 

They crossed it and pushed on. 

"Nixt thing' 11 be our ground — the hornet's nest." 
(Mark gave the spot its name, which it goes by to this day. ) 

"Halt! Who goes there?" 

They have run upon a Confederate outpost. Nothing 
for it but to go back; their errand of love has failed. 

"Come back here, you corpse-robbers, or we'll fire on 
you!" 

They start on a run for the fallen trees, and some 
random shots are fired at the sound of their retreating 
footsteps. 

"Damn 'em! They're Yanks! Go for 'em, boj^s! ' 
And they know that either a rebel prison or that brush- 
heap is their refuge. Fargeon's legs are not even yet 
what they were before his rheumatism; but he is making 
pretty good time in Mark's wake, when he stumbles and 
falls heavily, just in time to escape a bullet that hustles 
above him and strikes the ground in front. Mark has 
turned round to see what keeps his captain, and the 
spent ball, or a stone dislodged by it, strikes him fair 
in the mouth. 

"Dom yer sowl — ye found me wayk sfot!" he mutters 
as he spits out the blood and stoops over Will, slowly 
rising from the ground. 

"Lay low, sorr! It's our only chance!" 

Low they lie, almost breathless with apprehension. 
The confederates either pass wide of them or give up 
the chase when they cease to hear foo<;steps to guide 
them; and after a quarter of an hour Mark ventures to 
get up and look about him. 



298 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

"All's clayr, Caftain." He speaks with even more in- 
distinctness than usual, for his unlucky lips are hurt 
almost beyond speech. "Shall we tthry it wanst moar?" 

"Well, Mark — there's something very queer about rny 
ankle. It's broken or something. I can't seem to put 
my foot to the ground at all." 

"Lemme sthrike a match an' tehk a luk at it, sorr. 
Howly Mother of God — ye're wownded, caftain!" 

Will groaned. "When I fell I only thought I'd struck 
my foot, and that the pain was a touch of the old Don- 
elson soreness. " Then, as the thought came over him how 
much this calamity meant, he groaned again, and again; 
each moan more heart-broken than the last. 

"Well, sorr!" cried Mark, in the gayest possible tone, 
"as the bye said, the nixt thing is something else. Ye 
must let me carry ye!" 

"You couldn't begin to do it, Mark!" 

"Who, me, sorr? Savin' yer frisence I'll carry ye to 
the broosh-file or break me dom back! I will, sorr; oah, 
I will." 

Mark kneels down by Will, and the latter slowly lifts 
himself to his knees; then both together rise erect; 
then the taller throws his long arms over the shoulders 
of the other. [The captain thought of the Donelson fence- 
corner — memory is so closely allied with the sense of 
smell!] Next, little Mark bends forward until he has all 
the weight well balanced, and then runs forward with in- 
credible strength and swiftness for fifty or more short steps 
before stopping for breath, and pauses while Will puts 
his unhurt foot to the ground for a few moments. These 
spurts of desperate effort become shorter and shorter, 
but they do pass the stream and reach the brush-heap at 
last, without coming in actual contact with any of the 
robbers who infest the field. With one last fearful 



OH, WHERE IS MAC ? SQQ 

Struggle, Mark carries his burden into the midst of the 
shelter and sinks down under him, all spent and speech- 
less with exhaustion. 

Soon he bursts out again as gay as ever: 

"Thank God, Caftain, it's warmer weather nor it wor 
v/hin you'n me laid out t'gither befoar! " 

"Yes, indeed, Mark; but what next? "What next?" 

"Well, sorr — I wish't I had me gun." 

"Do you think these hounds may try to trouble us 
here?" 

"Well, sorr — we'll not be scairt befoar we're hurted. 
But, by )'er lave, I'll jist skirmish round a bit till I see 
can I lay hand on a gun." 

He departs, and is gone a considerable time, during 
which the helpless captain plainly hears the sound of 
voices near. At last he becomes aAvare of some one ap- 
proaching, and lies in anguish of apprehension until he 
hears Mark's tones whispering "Caftain" through the 
deep darkness of the thicket. 

"Well, Mark, did you get a musket?" 

"I did, sor; oah I did. An' more be token a coufle av 
'em, an' a cathridge-box, an' some cafs." 

"Did I hear you speaking to some one?" 

"I jist passed the toime o' day wid wan av 'em, sorr. 
I made out I was wan of thimselves — God forgive me! 
An' they axed me had I a good find in the broosh here. 
An' I tould 'em sorra the taste av a man, kilt or wound- 
ed, was here at-all-at-all. But we'll kafe our eyes ofen 
- — we will, sorr; oah we will." 

He proceeds to load the muskets. To be sure, within 
ten minutes they hear somebody pushing in by the way 
Mark had come. When the intruder comes near enough 
to be dangerous, Mark calls out: 

"Git out o' this, ye thafe av the worrld! " 



30O THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

"Shut yer mouth, ye dam' sawed-off Paddy! Ye've 
got a good thing an' ye' re tryin' to hawg it all, an' I 
know it, an' ye can't do it." 

Mark takes one of the guns and creeps out, not di- 
rectly toward the sounds, but a little to one side. Upon 
reflection Will perceives his object in this. The thought- 
ful fellow knows he may be fired at, and wants to free 
his captain from the danger of a passed shot. The 
other gun Will pulls to him, prepared for the worst. 
Mark, killed or wounded, will not be undefended or un- 
avenged, as the case may be. 

After a moment of stillness, broken only by the slowly 
advancing footsteps, Mark's musket rings out with a 
roar that seems, in the close stillness of the time and 
place, like the sound of a cannon. This is succeeded by 
a silence more profound by contrast; unbroken until, after 
what seemed a wonderfully long ti*ne, Mark himself 
creeps cautiously back. 

"Did you go to him, Mark?" 

"I did, sorr; oah, I did." 

"Is he dead?" 

"Dead as Julius Sayzer, sorr." 

"Well — I suppose he deserved it." 

"Divvle the doubt av that, sorr; noa, there's not, 
there's not." 

"Now, Mark, I've been thinking what we'd better do. 
You must go back to camp." 

"Oah, Caftain dayr — doan't sind me off! Ye'd not be 
safe here, not an hour! Ye'd be robbed an' murthered 
an' soald for a slave before ye knowed where ye war! 
Ye wud, sorr; oah, ye wud!" 

"Well, but, my poor boy, what do you propose to do?" 

"Stay wid ye, Caftain — alive or dead, poor old Mark' 11 
Stan' by ye ! Ye know ye stood by me wanst — doan't 



OH, WHERE IS MAC ? 3OI 

ye be harrd on me — lemme me be wid ye, whether ye' re 
tuk by the rebels or fwhativer haffens. Loike as not 
our army's fell back ag'in — mebbe miles or more aweh 
by this — an' the inimy comin' forr'd — an' av I lift ye 
I'd niver set eyes on ye ag'in in the wide worrld! " And 
the poor fellow boohoos till the tears run down over his 
misshapen mouth, now swelling out of all human sem- 
blance. 

"Now, Mark, listen to reason. If our army has gone 
back I've got to fall into the rebels' hands anyhow. 
Your staying here won't save me; while you can easily 
follow up the Sixth, save yourself, and tell them what 
became of me. See?" 

No answer. 

"While if we haven't fallen back, you may get together 
a squad with a litter and carry me in before day. See?" 

"But, Caftain dayr, if they haven't fallen back they'll 
be out huntin' us before daybreak annyhow. " 

"But they'll never find us unless you go and tell them 
where to look." 

"Oah, Caftain — I'd sooner cut off me roight hand than 
lave ye here aloan. I wud, soa I wud." 

"You may help me by going. You can't help me by 
staying." 

The faithful friend prepared for departure, laying his 
canteen and the two muskets within Will's reach. 

"And Mark — just take these things with you." He took 
out his watch. "Just hand that to the surgeon for Mr. 
Penrose." His pocket-book. "That's for yourself." 
Some letters from his pocket he kissed before passing 
over. "Those you must burn as soon as 5^ou find that 
you'll see me no more. Now go — and good-bye, old fel- 
low! Have your wound attended to the first thing." 

Mark fell on his knees and wept sore. 



302 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

"Caftain, if they've goan I'll niver goa afther thim! 
Ye' 11 see me by dehlight, wid help or aloan, as God 
wills." 

He went awa)', and as long as he was within hearing 
Will heard the name of the Virgin, the evangelists, and 
many a saint, poured out in fervent though broken, tear- 
ful and imperfect speech. Then begins patience— where 
impatience would be futile. The grass is wet; the foli- 
age is wet; the night-breeze wails as it shakes down the 
heavy drops. Nature gives sighs and tears to her dead 
and dying, while the black hours drag their slow lengths 
along. A bird utters his note. The east grows gray 
with sweet summer dawn — silent, peaceful, strange; 
yet no litter and no Mark Looney. Will sits up and 
looks at his wounded ankle. The sight makes him sick 
with nausea, and he covers it hastily. He takes off his 
coat, and tearing off one shirt-sleeve, ties it around the 
shattered joint without looking at it. 

This fills the time till it must he near sunrise. A 
log is behind him; he lifts himself backward until his 
back rests against it. His shirt-sleeveless arm is chilly. 

The day is going to be clear and warm. Not a sound 
of battle is yet audible. Doubtless the enemy is forming 
for a grand advance to follow up their success. Where 
will they meet with anything like organized opposition? 
Probably not till they get miles beyond where he lies — 
not till they come to the limit of the gun-boats' fire. 

Long before that he will be a prisoner in the hands 
of the enem}^ What does that mean? That means pri- 
vation, suffering, delay in attending to his wound until, per- 
haps, gangrene sets in; then an amputation, then another, 
then slow death far from home and friends — far from 
Sally; near, perhaps, to Mac — glorious Mac, gloriously 
dead in battle. Well, whether near him or far from 



OH, WHERE IS MAC ? 



303 



him, the thought that he met his fate while trying to 
find Mac will be a comfort up to his last breath. 

Still no Mark and no litter. 

Aha! There is a cannon-shot— afar off, but surely from 
our side! The enemy could not have got so far forward 
as the place that sound comes from! Another, nearer, 
followed by five more— a full battery. He thinks he 
can recognize a Union ring in the tone. No response yet 
from behind him. 

The rising sun, and the stern determined sound of 

Union guns, brings an 
unmistakable revul- 
sion of feeling. Even 
he, helpless, wounded 
volunteer as he is, feels 
some of the "joy of 
battle" as the night's 
gloom meets the mor- 
row's reanimation. 

Still no sign of 
friends or fellow sol- 
diers. 

The sound of can- 
non has become fre- 
quent. Hurrah for 
the conflict! How much better than that unopposed 
advance of yesterday's victors to which he has been for 
many hours looking forward! Oh, artillery; flame and 
thunder! Infantry; stand fast! Why — why did he ever 
doubt his brothers-in-arms, the Union volunteers! 

Can he raise himself to a seat on the log? He can 
at least try. There, by doubling his well leg under 
him, and then getting his elbows against the rough bark, 
he gains an erect position. Now his hands on the log 




304 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

behind him raise him to its top. He lifts his leg with 
both hands; it does not hurt him much. The white 
shirt-sleeve is already soaked through with blood, and the 
wound is evidently too severe to be acutely painful. 

What can he see? 

Nearest him he can make out a reddish-gray object 
almost hidden in the grass and shrubs only a few rods 
avv^ay. It is, no doubt, Mark's victim of last night. A 
happy deliverance! Can any man on earth regret the 
sacrifice of a corpse-robber, violating the bodies of 
friend and foe; and making small distinction between 
the dead and the dying? 

But perhaps the first Confederates who come will think 
that it was his (Fargeon's) hand that fired the fatal shot, 
and laid low one of their fellow-soldiers after the battle 
was done. If so, what fate may he expect? On this he 
ponders long. He does not wish to die, though Mac is 
no more. 

What is visible beyond? Through openings in the 
thicket he can see the plain, studded here and there, 
though sparsely, with prostrate forms, stripped naked 
by the night-prowlers. Over toward where our lines 
ought to be he strains his eyes. No sign of the blessed 
Stars and Stripes. Not a man, nor a gun, nor even the 
smoke of a camp-fire. Now on the other side: With diffi- 
culty, hampered by his ruined foot, he turns his head 
around. There are the woods which border "the hornets' 
nest" where the Sixth Illinois yesterday offered itself 
on the Calvary of duty. No man, or gun, or flag to be 
seen there, either. But there seem to be pillars of light 
smoke, indicating camp-fires. No motion yet toward re- 
newing their attack — their effort so desperate, so fiendish, 
so heroic. Other parts of the field are recommencing 
the struggle; but on this especial ground both athletes 



OH, WHERE IS MAC ? ' 305 

are thoroughly exhausted and disposed to "spar for wind." 

Still no help for Will. Mark must have been killed, 
or wounded, or taken. 

Ha! There opens a new battery from our own lines, on 
the right, and not far from this very point! He hears 
the flying missiles, and they come from our side. Six — 
twelve guns that seems to be. Another battery! On the 
left this time; yet nearer to the place where the Sixth 
and its Michigan friends were halted when he left them. 
Beaten? Why we have only just begun the fight! Who 
says the Union army is whipped or ever can be whipped? 
What difference does it make that Mac is dead and that 
Will himself is going to die? Hurrah for the Union! 

"Oh, dear! Is this fever? Delirium? Well, it is not 
painful, so far. I can die so,, if need be. Let me lie flat 
down on the log and think it over." 

His "thinking" does not amount to much. Of course 
you can't sell dry goods when nobody wants any dry 
goods, nor pay debts when you've nothing to pay with. 
The idea is absurd. As poor Clinton Thrush said, give 
a man all the appellations in the world and take away 
his consignments, and what' 11 he offer next? Ha, ha, 
ha! Plain as the nose on a man's face. Extremely an- 
noying, though, this everlasting bringing up something, 
and turning away from it when it is just getting settled. 

Sleep, or some kind of lethargy that takes the place of 
it, comes on and lasts — no one knows just how long. 



"Front rank halt! Rear rank forwa-ard!" What is all 
this? Thirst, dizzy headache, and skirmish drill going 
on all at once! 

Thirst is the most pressing consciousness. Instinct- 
ively he grasps Mark's canteen and drinks, as it seems, 
20 



3o6 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

for hours — or ages — at any rate all through the interval 
between unconsciousness and consciousness. 

"Hello, Captain! How did you come here?" 

Fargeon stares, bewildered, at the speaker — a spruce 
young lieutenant, a stranger to him and a Union soldier. 

"Who are you sir, and where do you belong?" 

"Pennsylvania, when I'm at home." 

"Is this Pennsylvania?" 

"No, Captain; but this is a Pennsylvania regiment." 

"Why — I didn't know Grant had any," 

"He didn't. We're fighting just now under Gen. D. 
C. Buel." 

"Buel? Has Buel come up? Oh, thank God! " And 
Will burst into tears which clear his clouded brain 
enough to let him see that the battle was saved, and the 
army too, and he himself — all saved. 

After the skirmishers have passed, the brigade goes by, 
fresh, steady, determined. And after the brigade, what? 
A squad of Company K, shouting and welcoming him, 
with friends to lift him and a litter to carry him. And 
Mark! — Mark, with a blood-stained cloth covering all his 
face below his streaming eyes, having only a hole cut 
for his mouth. 

"Oh, Caftain dayr! I've eat me harrt out since day- 
break, soa I have! The d — Michigan b3'es wouldn't let 
me in — ye niver gave me the countersign — an' then 
divvle the wan av me wud they let out for love nor 
money till they'd come out thimsilves, bad cess to 'em!" 

They lift Will — now quite fever-stricken — gently to 
the litter. 

"Now, Sarg'nt, give yer orders." 

"Well, min; there's foive av yiz. Half of yiz go to 
the head and the other half to the fayt. I've a little 



OH, WHERE IS MAC ? 307 

business av me oan wid me butternut friend layin' there 
beyant, but I'll be wid ye shorrtly. " 

When he overtook them he laid on the litter beside 
Will a sword, two pocket-books, and a body belt doubt- 
less containing money. He also had two Union jackets 
to put under Will's head, and a blue overcoat to throw 
over his feet to keep off sun and flies. 

"The dom corpse-robber' 11 niver fay his way out av 
furgatory wid graynbacks. He'll not; nca, he'll not." 

The things he laid on the litter were not quite all he 
found. Hidden in his pocket were a gold watch and a 
little, worn, crumbled thread-and-needle-case, with "When 
this you see, remember" dimly legible on the outside. 

"Hello, Mac! Shake! Glad to see you, old boy! I'll 
tell you why — myarmiscold and my foot's asleep and — " 
he whispers mysteriously some unintelligible gibberish — 
"but they won't let me! But now you're here it's all 
right. You always make everything all right; don't you, 
Mac? Don't you? Of course j-ou do. Ha, ha, ha! " 

Who is it he is talking to and trying to embrace? 
Poor, bandaged, bloody, blindly blubbering Mark 
Loone}^ 

"Ochone, ocho-one! Vad luck to the day I was vorn, 
and vlack was the light av it." 



CHAPTER XXV. 



NOW FOR A CORK LEG. 




LOOK for a relief from delirium some- 
time to-day; then all will be well if 
ever. And I can tell you, sir, we 
think ourselves very lucky to be able 
to save the knee for a stump. With 
a knee-stump you'll hardly know he 
has an artificial leg. Many will never 
know it at all." 

That surely sounds like Doctor Straf- 
ford's voice. 
"Thank God for all His infinite mercies!" 
And that like Mr. Penrose's. What does it mean? 
What is this continuous rhythmical sound and motion? 
Why does every wave of that ceaseless fan seem to bring 
a breath of faint perfume that reminds Will of Sally 
Penrose? Has he been asleep? Can he open his eyes? 
Yes; he opens them. That looks like the skylight of a 
steamboat's cabin. Can he turn his head? Yes — but it 
must be all a dream; for it seems as if that angel-face 
with the fathomless eyes were the face of Sara — his love 
of long, long ago, in some former, half-forgotten life. 
The eyes meet his as if not expecting recognition, and 
he looks at them, contented and restful until explanation 
shall come of itself. 

"Father! Oh, dear father!" 
That is Sara's voice surely. 

308 



NOW FOR A CORK LEG. 309 

"The change has come; I can see it! I believe he 
knows me!" 

"Why, Sally, how could I help knowing j'^//.?" 

Who spoke? That surely is not his voice — so thin, 
so feeble and unsteady! 

Yes, that is his love's face laid against his. It is her 
arm which encircles his neck, and her shoulder on which 
his hand rests, while her tones whisper words of love and 
gladness in his ear. 

After a delicious minute his hand is taken in a clasp, 
strong, tender, and reassuring, and Will meets the smil- 
ing face of his dear old friend and companion. Doctor 
Strafford — meets it with an answering smile. 

Again Mr. Penrose's voice is raised in a prayer of 
thanks to Heaven; and then follows a long, restful silence. 

"Now tell me all the news." 

"May we. Doctor?" 

"Yes; if he'll promise not to ask questions." 

Will nodded assent. 

"Well, Major Fargeon! " (Sally pauses, while his eyes 
ask the question he had promised not to utter) "because 
you know you were brevetted for gallantry at Donelson. 
I'm sure you ought to be brevetted commander-in-chief 
for Shiloh! Now, Major Fargeon, you have been talk- 
ing very foolishly for a good many days; so we had to 
bring you to the hospital boat St. Luke; and here we 
are, just started /c*/- hovie, Major, if you have no objec- 
tion." 

"Home," murmurs Will. "Home. Home. Home." 

"Now, father, it is your turn," says Sally's sweet 
voice. 

"Major Fargeon, Bue. s army came up and the battle 
was won, after the first day's disasters; and the rebels 
were driven back with immense loss." 



3IO THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

Will closes his eyes and holds up his hand for silence 

while he lets this great thought fill his soul. Then with 

a sigh and a smile he opens them and waits for more. 

"Now, Doctor Strafford, " says Sally, "what have you to 

say?" 

"Chicken-broth." 

They laugh at this terse announcement of an important 
bit of intelligence; Will nodding assent to the sugges- 
tion it conveys. While Strafford is gone to order the 
broth, Sally resumes the thread of news. 

"Father and Doctor Strafford and Lydia and I hurried 
down when we heard of your wound." 

Here she grows uneasy and looks at her father, who in 
turn involuntarily glances toward the foot of the bed. 

"Oh, I know my foot is gone," whispers Will with a 
smile. 

"But, " interposes Mr. Penrose, "by the mercy of Heav- 
en, with a knee-stump you will hardly know you have an 
artificial leg — many never know it at all." [The minister 
had slightly misunderstood the doctor.] 

Will nods indifferently, and Strafford returns, announc- 
ing that the broth will come directly. It is now his turn 
to speak. Will interrupts him to say: 

"1 know about my amputation and the knee-stump." 

"Well, then, as Mark says, 'the nixt thing is some- 
thin' else.' I have taken Mark's case in hand — the 
worst-looking lip you ever saw in your life." 

Will nods. 

"And I am going to make it a better lip than it ever 
was before since he was born — or before." 

Will opens his eyes very wide. 

"Yes, Major, I have taken advantage of that laceration 
to perform one of the loveliest operations of metaplastic 
art. That lip, when it heals up, will be a model from 



NOW FOR A CORK LEG. 311 

which a sculptor might sculp St. Cecelia playing on a 
Jew's-harp! Don't laugh! I mean it — and, besides, here 
comes the broth. Here, let me arrange you — there, 
Mark is to be the broth of a boy; and now you are to be 
a boy of the broth." 

"Only one teaspoonful," whispers Will. But after one 
follows another, and then another, until the bowl isempty. 

"Now some water," he says (not whispers). "Aha — 
that's good!" And as he lies back there is a tinge of 
color in lip and cheek. 

"Now," says the doctor, and he says no more, but lays 
his finger significantly on his lip and looks in turn at each 
of the others; last at Fargeon, closing his eyes to inti- 
mate what he wished the patient to do. With child-like 
docility Will obeys, and is quickly in the land of dreams 
and soon afterward even beyond that land, in the qui- 
eter region of space where the ether is too rarefied for 
dreams themselves to subsist on. 



When Fargeon awoke again to the rhythmic motion 
and the ceaseless fan, Sara and her father were still be- 
side him; Doctor Strafford away attending to other 
sufferers. They gave him hard- tack soaked in sugar-water, 
very refreshing to his fever-laden mouth, the dreadful 
breath whereof Sara had learned to know so well. 

"Now some more news, please." 

"Well, Major," said the minister, "through God's 
mercy Lieut. -Colonel Isaacs is rapidly recovering from his 
wound, and Major Colemason has resigned— or, rather, 
gone back to his captaincy, which he feels he never 
should have quitted." 

Will smiled at these evidences of the mercy of Heaven, 
and Sally took up the thread of narrative. 

"Poor Captain Chafferty was killed. Mark brought off a 



312 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

sword and other things we took to be his, on the same 
litter with you." 

"Poor Chaff!" 

"And when Isaacs gets to be colonel, the other captain 
who ranks you will be lieutenant-colonel, and you will be 
a full-fledged major, instead of only one by brevet! Am I 
not a wise woman on military matters?" 

Will nodded, but gave her no answering smile. He 
looked from one to the other with pleading eyes that 
seemed to say, "Is that all — all?" Silence reigned. 
Then his bosom heaved with a great sob, and tears ran 
from both his eyes, down his cheeks and on to the pillow, 
before Sally's handkerchief could catch them. 

"Don't cry, dear! Don't! It might be bad for you." 

"I am crying for what you don't dare to tell me." 

"We have nothing, dear— nothing positive. But we 
still have some hope — or at least /have." 

"Tell me all — everything! " 

"You know you promised not to ask questions," inter- 
posed Mr. Penrose. 

"I am not asking questions; I am commanding you to 
give me full accounts concerning my — command." The 
sick captain spoke with all the petulance of weakness 
— too feeble even to correct the absurd phraseology. 
Again silence, troubled silence, reigned. 

"Forgive me, dear! " the quavering voice resumed. 
Then, when her face was laid by his, he whispered: "You 
may better do as I ask. I cannot live so — and I may if 
I know all." She still hesitated, and still he pleaded 
with her, sobbing in a weak manner that alarmed them 
beyond words. 

"If this request is denied — I feel a little as if I might 
— never make you another — another sane one." Then 
they dared no longer refuse or delay. They told him 



NOW FOR A CORK LEG. 313 

that the latest accounts they had of Lieutenant McClin- 
tock were when the men accompanying the litter were 
assailed by a terrible flank fire from the left (their 
right as they retreated). They turned from it, but could 
not get clear of it. The wounded man was breathing 
when they started, but after that they did not all ex- 
amine him. There were conflicting accounts as to who 
were with him last — two men asserting that the third 
had disappeared long before they were driven from their 
charge, and the third asserting that the others had left 
him alone with the litter. This made a preponderance 
of testimony in favor of the first-named story. But the 
third man was a member of Company K itself, which 
the others were not. 

"Was the soldier a private named Dugong?" 

"The very same! How did you know?" said Mr. Pen- 
rose with effusion. "Yes, it was Mr. Dugong. He seems 
an admirable man — faithful to the last in caring for his 
lieutenant, even when deserted by the others. I could 
not forbear giving him my personal assurance that 5'ou 
would not forget his services — alone, surrounded by foes, 
and cutting his way out only after all hope was gone of 
being of further use to poor Mr. McClintock. I vent- 
ured to hold out hopes of a sergeantcy, if not even a 
lieutenancy." 

"Dugong! Curse his soul! The hound! I'll settle 
him yet! " 

Sara sprang forward and placed her hand on Will's 
forehead. 

"Father! Run for Doctor Strafford ! Tell him to come 
at once — at oncer 

"No, no, my beloved. No, Sally, dear, I am not going 
to the bad again. Mr. Penrose, don't call the doctor — 
Pm perfectly calm, and Pll tell you all about it." 



SH 



THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 



"Not now, dear; please, to oblige me, not now! You 
frighten me so! " 

"Oh, well," he laughed; "just as you like. Only — " 
She laid her dear hand on his lips, and he kissed the 
slender, pink finger-tips and was silent. After a little 
space he mumbled through the light obstruction: 

"If I could speak, I should ask for more broth; but as 
I cannot, I will starve to death without a murmur." 

"Oh, yes; you may speak to that extent. Father, please 
order some, if Doctor Strafford approves." 

"With some boiled rice in it!" called WilL 

So, for a few minutes the lovers are left alone to- 
gether — minutes v/hereon even we, the unseen audience, 
will not intrude. We will walk, with Mr. Penrose, the 
length of the great steamer, between those interminable 
rows of beds, each holding a suffering hero's mangled 
form — Union or rebel, for all are treated alike. Over 
most of them hovers Hope; over some broods Despair. 
Around some are stretched screens that hide from view 
the final throes, or the pitiful, quiet form which has just 
passed through them, and is awaiting the night for re- 
moval to the open forward deck, where boxes are piled 
ready. 

The St. Luke moves majestically down the broad river, 
her ponderous high-pressure engines breathing alter- 
nately; she, like a great whale, spouting vapor high in air, 
first through one blow-hole, then through the opposite — 
a planet, swinging through the realms of space, freighted 
with life and death, hope and fear, pain and pleasure, 
joy and sorrow, love and — but no; no hatred, unless it is 
thrown at her from the dark, unfriendly banks. The first 
blood that flows from a man seems to carry off all bitter- 
ness of heart, like a scum of bile on its surface. 

Now we will thread our way back toward Fargeon's 



NOW FOR A CORK LEG. 315 

bedside, with Mr. Penrose, Doctor Strafford, and the broth. 

"You see, Doctor, what frightened us was his bursting 
out in violent — I may almost say profane — words against 
one of his own soldiers; a man who, if I am correctly 
informed (and I have it from his own lips) risked his life 
in a heroic effort to bring away Lieutenant McClintock 
— or his remains; for he says the lieutenant had died 
before he was forced to leave him." 

"That violence is very strange — and very serious in- 
deed, unless there is something back which we do not 
yet know." 

"I presume you approve our course — checking the 
vagary at once?" 

"Yes, yes — I dare say. Though I may decide to un- 
Avire the cork and let the gas effervesce, and so relieve 
the pressure. Tell you better when I feel his pulse and 
look at his eyes." 

They arrive. 

"Well, Major — here comes your commissary train with 
rations. How do you feel, old boy?" 

"Just — delightfully! There's no other word for it!" 

"Pulse— all right! Eyes — couldn't be better! Never 
mind your tongue; save that to hold, when you ought 
not to talk, and to eat broth and rice with." 

"Oh, dear! Is that all you brought? What is that 
little dab, among one?" 

"Oh, that's more than you think for. As mj' mother 
used to say when I took more than I could eat, your eyes 
are bigger than your stomach." 



"Now let's see, said the blind man. Where did we 
drop the thread? But, Major, don't scare me as you did 
Mr. and Miss Penrose." 

"Never fear. Doctor. Ycu don't scare easily. They 



3l6 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

were trying to tell me the last news — no, I'll not say 
that — the latest news from my own glorious Mac! my 
beloved Mac! my own brother-in-arms Mac — my more 
than brother!" 

"Well, Major, let the dominie get clear through his 
tale; then you may fire off your mouth and free your 
mind." 

"All right! Sally dear, lay your pretty hand close by, 
and clap it on my lips if I so much as open them to 
breathe. " 

"Well," began the dominie, "the two litter-bearers 
report that they vvere making good time to the rear — 
glad enough to have a stout soldier to help carry the 
heavy end. The first thing that disturbed them was 
that Union troops — not Sixth Illinois men — began to pass 
on their right in a steady stream, as fast as the)' could 
go — much faster than the litter could travel. After 
a while the stream grew less; the fugitives seemed to 
have all got by, and rebel bullets began to come from 
their right hand as well as behind them. 

"So far their report agrees with that of Private Du- 
gong, who was the soldier who had so kindly volunteered 
to help them." 

"Oh! — " began Will; whereupon his remark was sum- 
marily extinguished, as a candle under a pair of snuffers, 
only the extinguisher was in the shape of four most kiss- 
able fingers. 

"Now hear what Private Dugong reports, and with 
what seems to me the most absolute and soldierly good 
faith. He says that when the rebel bullets began to fly 
the other men incontinently set down the litter and fled, 
paying no heed to his urgent appeals to persevere. He 
even repeats the very words he made use of. Said he: 
'Fellow-comrades' (that was his expression), 'Lieutenant 



NOW FOR A CORK LEG. 317 

McClintock is acknowledged to be, by all odds, the best 
and bravest officer in our army. Consider what a loss he 
will be to our great cause! Why, my captain, Cap Far- 
geon, would rather give a hundred dollars out of his own 
pocket than have Lieutenant McClintock fall into the 
enemy's hands. Let us try once more. If at first you don't 
succeed, try, try again. As for me, fellow-comrades, 
5^ou may do as you please, but I will never, never desert 
my superior officer.' Those were his very words, as far 
as I can remember them; though there were more to the 
same general purpose. 

"But to resume. His appeal was unavailing. They 
did not even pause to listen to him, but fled in the most 
dastardly manner. Then the brave soldier went to the 
side of the lieutenant, resolved, as he had said, to die with 
him if it should be God's will. But alas, Lieutenant Mc- 
Clintock was no more! Bear up bravely, my dear Cap- 
tain Fargeon, praying Heaven for aid — his heart had 
ceased to beat." 

The good dominie put his hand to his eyes and was 
silent. 

"Oh! — " began Will, fruitlessly as before. 

"Now, Willie," said Sally, "I'll tell you what the 
two others say. They say that as soon as the bullets be- 
gan to come from their right-hand side the volunteer 
dropped the litter handle and ran like a dog directly 
away from the firing. In vain they shouted; he only 
ducked his head and ran the harder. Well, they too 
swerved toward their left, and kept going — only stopping 
to change ends — kept going as long as they could stand 
it, and then gave up and ran toward our lines, but never 
caught sight of Dugong again until the next day." 

Will took Sally's hand quietly in his own to intimate 
that it was now his turn. 



3X8 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

"Caleb Dugong is a coward and a damnable liar. If he 
says Mac is alive, he is dead. If he says he is dead, he 
is alive." 

Then he told them of the incident when he last sav/ 
Dugong; v/hen the skulker made Mac's being carried off 
an excuse for leaving the field, refusing to return even 
Virhen commanded by name to do so. 

"Now, this is the third time the hell-hound has 
skulked, to my knowledge and under my very eyes! If 
ever I get well and find him in Company K, I'll have him 
court-martialed; and if the court is afraid to have him 
shot, by all that's good and holy, I'll — " 

Again the gentle hand checked the ungentle words, so 
strange fromx those humane, charitable, gentlemanly lips. 

Contracted brow and sad, anxious eyes, and the 
absence of any demand for more news of the man}' things 
left untold, made the loving watchers uneasy, and Straf- 
ford cast about for something with which to effect a 
diversion, 

"Major, a friend of yours is waiting impatiently to see 
you, though for reasons beyond his own control he will 
not have much to say for himself." 

An inquiring look came over the major's face. 

"Mark Looney is on board." 

"Dear old Mark! Bring him on. Doctor." 

Mark arrived, the whole lower part of his face covered 
with one great bandage, only pierced at each corner of 
the mouth with apertures large enough to receive a tube. 

"My only hesitancy about bringing Mark to see you is 
the fear that he may try to smile when he sees you so 
much better; for I have told him if he cracks a smile 
and disturbs those stitches, he is to be shot at sunrise!" 

Mark's eyes smiled when he grasped Fargeon's hand, 
whether his concealed lips did or not. 



NOW FOR A CORK LEG. 319 

"Now Mark has suffered a hundred times more pain 
than you have." 

Mark shook his head, and Will could almost hear him 
say: "Sorra the taste of a fain I moinded at-all-at-all. 
No, sorr, I did not; oah, I did not." 

"Well, he might well have done that. I haven't felt 
a pang to speak of, from first to last — bodily." 

"Mark never whimpered when I put in the stitches — 
though I confess it hurt vie to put them where they are! 
And I know that for two days and nights afterward he 
never slept!" 

Mark tossed his head as if to say: "That's soa — but 
fvvhat av it?" 

"And since that he has refused to lie abed — insisted 
on acting as assistant about the boat, and the most 
valuable and efficient hospital hand I ever saw, speech- 
less as he is." 

Another deprecatory nod. 

"Now, by the day after to-morrow I am going to let 
up on him — take off the plaster bands — and then, if all 
goes well, as I believe it will, he'll be well and able to 
look any man in the eye — or woman either." 

Mark passed his bands across his eyes with a gesture 
that seemed to brush away a life-long trouble; and soon 
departed to go on with his manifold merciful avocations. 

"Now, where' s Lydia? You said she came with 5'ou. " 

"Yes; but she is not going back with us. I don't know 
that any one has told you, Willie, that a very senti- 
mental feeling has grown out of the correspondence which 
has been going on between Lydia and Mr. McClintock. " 

"No! Do you mean so? That close-mouthed fellow 
never breathed aword of it. But Lydia is a mere child! " 

"Not so much of a child. She had aged wonderfully 
since her visit to Donelson; and he has always been her 



320 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

hero since she first heard of him, before the regiment 
left Chicago. Every word you said or wrote about him 
she seized upon as if it had been the breath of life." 

"And now she is waiting to learn his fate? Bless her 
dear heart! But who is with her?" 

"Mr. and Mrs. Prouder." 

"What? The old man himself?" 

"Yes; they left their two little boys at our house and 
we all came down together, and between them all no 
effort will be spared to relieve our suspense." 

"Yes, indeed! If old Zury is to the fore, money and 
shrewdness will never be lacking. I am very glad — very 
glad in the money matter, for as soon as I have time to 
think about things worldly, I shall begin to be anxious 
regarding the expenses your father must have incurred." 

"Oh, Will, you need not worry about money." 

"But I must, love; not at this moment, perhaps, but — " 

"Never again." 

"Oh, you dear, simple sweetheart! Are we now about 
to live forever upon your hundreds of dollars saved up?" 

"Not on them, but on other hundreds — and thousands." 

"Why, have you found a pot of money? I don't re- 
member any rich uncle of yours on either side who can 
have died and left you a large fortune in silver and gold." 

"Well, dear, don't let us talk any more about it now. 
Next week, when we are safe at home, if you go on get- 
ting well, I will set your mind quite at rest as to money. " 

A long, wholesome silence follows, during which there 
comes a stoppage of the boat's engines. They are mak- 
ing the landing at Savannah, to take on more wounded 
men and put ashore one who has already died under the 
surgeon's knife. The halt wearies the sufferers, for they 
reckoned their journey, not by its progress, but by its in- 
terruptions. At length all is ready, and the St. Luke 



NOW FOR A CORK LEG. 321 

once more rounds out Into the stream. As she does so a 
band stationed on shore to speed the parting wayfarers, 
softly begins playing "Home, Sweet Home." 

How many eyes fill with tears! Or, rather, how few 
of the listeners can restrain this evidence of weakness! 
On Will Fargeon's memor3'one more old melody is newly 
impressed in such tones that he can never afterward 
hear it without overpowering emotion. 



"Will, dear?" 

"Well, love." 

"Achilles! It was in your heel after all! " 

"Yes, Sally. Your fun was prophetic. Aren't you 
glad you didn't call me Hector?" 

"Oh well — wait until I get you in my power! Per- 
haps both names will fit!" _ *' 

And so they tried to forget their trials and their griefs 
in a comfortable present and serene future. But time 
and life were toning down both hopes and fears — happily. 

21 



CHAPTER XXVI. 



THE FORTUNES OF WAR. 

HE transfer from boat to cars at Cairo, 
and the long, hot ride thence to Chicago 
were very tryiny; and a tired, weak and doc- 
ile invalid it was who at last sank to much- 
needed rest at the cool, heavenly-quiet 
parsonage. Strafford had remained behind; 
the medical staff declaring that he could 
not be spared, and insisting on his taking 
a surgeon's appointment, even if only tem- 
porarily. So Fargeon's "stump" was put in 
the care of Doctor Brainard; and Mark, with 
sixty day's furlough, was his able nurse and 
devoted slave. Poor Mark would have been glad to give 
an arm or a leg, or even life itself, for his beloved cap- 
tain. Nay, he would almost have done more — foregone 
the benefit of Strafford's surgical operation on his old 
blemish! This, by the way, had provided him with a 
countenance reasonably like those of other men — if one 
be not too critical, and Mark was not. As he said: 

"The docther putt a mug onto me noa man nayd be 
ashamed av. He did; oah, he did," 




"Thank you, Mark! Oh, this lounge is Heaven itself! 
You are as strong as a horse, Mark." 

"Fehth, sorr— Mehjor; ye' re not soa hefty as 5'e wor 

322 



THE FORTUNES OF WAR. 323 

fwhin I carr'd ye into the broosh-pile. Ye' re not; noa, 
ye're not — worrse luck!" 

"And, Mark, you will come back about dark and help 
me to bed again?" 

"I will sorr — Mehjor; oah, I will." [Exit.] 

"Now, Sally, dear, I must see Mr. Thorburn and ar- 
range to have my pay account transferred up here and 
turned over to your father to help along. I wonder Uncle 
Colin hasn't called before now." 

"He is — not in town, Willie. And as to mone}', I 
tell you we are all fully supplied, but I am not ready to 
tell 3'ou how, just yet." 

"Oh, you mysterious financier! So deep and artful! 
Do you happen to know how Me3"er Moss-Rosen gets on 
with my old debts?" 

"Oh, everything has, as the newspapers say, 'gone 
kiting,' and the last time I saw Uncle Colin he told me 
the debts were all paid, but he added almost with tears 
in his eyes, that he had ruined 5'ou by making that ar- 
rangement we liked so much, turning over your store to 
Moss-Rosen on condition he should pay the debts." 

"Dear old Thorburn! Well, I have known for some 
time that Meyer got the best of that bargain, as things 
have turned out — inflation and all." 

"Yes; Mr, Thorburn said that you had lost, and Moss- 
Rosen was going to make $100,000 by the bargain, and 
that he, Uncle Colin, would never forgive himself until 
he had atoned to you for his blunder, as he called it. 

"Oh, pshaw! He needn't trouble himself. He only 
helped me do what I had resolved to do if I could — tried 
to, and couldn't without his help." 

Sally was silent. 

"Now I must relieve his kind old heart. When will 
he return?" 



324 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

"I — don't know." 

"When did you see him last?" 

"Just after Donelson. He brought the news of 3'our 
glorious doings. He cried and laughed together — we all 
did; he walking the floor and talking constantly about 
you — his own 'braw lad' — loaded upon a litter to be car- 
ried to his death for his land's sake — the morning break- 
ing — our boys saying good-bye — their guns loaded and 
their bayonets fixed — they looking out over their stony 
death-bed — the healthy cowards all left behind, and his 
own 'braw lameter' limping along so he mightn't be 
left alive when his brave lads should be dead and dy- 
ing — and then the Heaven-sent white flag — when became 
to that his spectacles fell off and we all laughed together 
but his tears blinded him so that he couldn't see his 
glasses till I picked them up and gave them to him — " 
Here the tears and sobs choked her utterance, while 
there seemed to be no laughter mixed with them. 

"Don't cry so, dear! It's all over now — and how far 
away it all seems! That blessed old man! I must see 
him! Where is he, do you know?" 

"No." (Faintly audible.) 

"I'll write — no, by George, I'll telegraph! Somebody 
must know his address. Please get me pencil and paper, 
Sally my love." 

"Oh, Will! Wait till to-morrow." 

"But why, love? I want to write the message; then 
if it is going to cost too much — " 

"Oh, it isn't that!" 

"Well; whether we send it off or not, it will show our 
good will, and we'll give it to him when he returns. 
Just humor me, Sally. Give me pencil and paper, please, " 

She did as he asked, and Fargeon wrote: 



THE FORTUNES OF WAR. 325 

"Best friend. Money all right. Army all right. Union 
all right. Leg all right. Heart all right." 

"There! Seventeen words. Twenty will go by night- 
rate the same as ten by day. Can't we afford that?" 

"Yes," answered the weeping girl. 

"Well, let us make it twenty. Let's see; suppose we 
add 'wedding very soon.' How will that do?" 

She only shook her head. 

"Isn't it all true?" 

"Yes, I hope so." 

"Won't he be pleased to read it? Then why do you 
hang back so, dear? But here comes your father; I'll 
leave it to him. Now, Mr. Penrose, your daughter and I 
have fallen out, and you see she is crying, so I must be 
in the wrong — but how, I can't for the life of me make 
out. Here, read this proposed telegram and see if it is 
a matter for tears, not to say howls of anguish." 

"Why, I see nothing out of the way in that. Money 
— army — Union — leg — heart — all right. So they are, to 
be sure! Wedding very soon; well, that's for you two 
to say. But to whom is the message to go?" 

"Why, to Uncle Colin Thorburn, to be sure," cried 
Will, bursting into a gay laugh which died suddenly on 
his lips as he saw the minister stagger as if he had been 
struck. A full minute of oppressive silence followed; 
then Mr. Penrose said, with deep solemnity: 

"The telegraph hence to Heaven is not of wire, but of 
prayer. Let us pra)'. " Then, kneeling, he poured out 
fervent thanks for the blessings which the world had re- 
ceived in the life of a good man now gone to his reward, 
and for whose special goodness to those present, both 
in his life and in his death, their undying thanks should 
be given; first to God, then to Colin Thorburn, the in- 
strument of God's mercy and His bounty. Will lay 



326 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

with face to the wall, his dry eyes covered with his 
hand. Men do not cry for the death of older men, how- 
ever loved and honored. 



Yes, the grand old Scot had died, most suddenly, dur- 
ing the time the Sixth was at Pittsburg Landing, before 
the dreadful days of Shiloh. His will, when opened, 
proved to be a curious document, the product of the 
kindly thoughts of a kind heart through many years. 
Though signed and witnessed very latel)^ some of the 
earlier legacies were erased, with the word "dead" writ- 
ten in the margin. Others were erased with other words 
to explain the change: "Society turned sectarian." 
"No charity school — only a land-speculation," and so on. 

Finally came the residuary clause, added, evidently, 
just before the date and execution. "All the rest and res- 
idue of my estate, real and personal, of every name and 
nature, I shall now bestow in such manner as it seems to 
me will best undo part of the injustice which is to spring 
from this war, for I do perceive that it is to be the rich 
man's war, but the poor man's fight; that those will get 
rich who do not fight; and those who do fight will not 
get rich — no, never. 

"I would give the said rest and residue direct to my 
brave and beloved young friend, William Fargeon, cap- 
tain in the Union army and worthy to be its commander- 
in-chief, as I in my heart believe, since I have learqed 
the manner of his behavior at Donelson and elsewhere. 
The reasons why I do not give it to him direct are: 

"Imprimis: His valor may cost him his life, and I 
know not who his heirs may be: 

" Seatndo: For a certain cause I doubt his shrewdness 
and discretion in business matters, and the caus^ of- my 
doubt is this; videlicet; that in a late crisis in his affairs 



THE FORTUNES OF WAR. 327 

he was unwise enough to follow the counsel of an old 
fool who thought a Yankee ell was to be measured by a 
Scotchman's thumb; whereb)' great loss accrued to him, 
the said William Fargeon; the old fool who gave the 
bad counsel being myself. 

"Now, therefore, I do give, devise, and bequeath the 
said rest and residue of my estate, both real and per- 
sonal, of every name and nature, not otherwise herein- 
before disposed of, unto Mistress Sara Penrose, spin- 
ster; whereby I fervently hope that it may inure to 
the benefit and behoof of the said Fargeon as her 
husband, and to their children, should God grant 
them that blessing which He hath denied unto me, for 
my own fault and short-coming, in that I married not. 
And should they have so many knave-bairns that they 
know not where to seek finer appellations for them all, I 
bid them mind that Colin Thorburn is a name that hath 
not, to my knowledge, belonged to any that hath been 
hanged for sheep-stealing." 

Immanuel Penrose was named executor (with compen- 
sation and without bonds), and the said executor was ad- 
vised to consult, as legal and business counsel, the testa- 
tor's old, trusted, most valued and most invaluable 
friend, Mark Skinner. 

When he came to read the will, Fargeon fell to think- 
ing aloud. 

"A rich man's war and a poor man's fight — a rich 
main's war and a poor man's fight. Yes; that's it — the 
soldiers are opening and shutting the gate, 'ike the man 
in the fable." Then to his lovely, tireless watcher: 
« : "So you are a great heiress, Sara?" 

• ".Yes, dear. Please be very humble to me, and always 
'X.^S'pect my slightest wish in every possible way, or 
dread the power of the mighty dollar." 



328 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

"Heigh-ho! I remember your saying once that you were 
usually harmless, but terrible when roused. Be roused, 
please, Miss Penrose, and terrify me." 

"But, dear Willie, you haven't thwarted my slightest 
wish yet. How can I be roused unless you rouse me? 
Make some unreasonable demand and see me flare up." 

"Well — but first tell me how much your fortune is." 

"Oh, don't ask me, dear, yet. In fact, we don't know 
yet, exactly." 

"Is it six figures?" 

"Six? Let me see." She turned and wrote something 
on paper. "One, two, three, four, five, six! You've hit 
it exactly! You are a wonderful guesser! That's what 
it is to have been a business man! Exactly six figures 
— not counting cents." 

He turned his head languidly to the wall again and 
began tracing the pattern of the paper with his thin, 
white forefinger. A ring at the front door-bell was heard. 

"Sara, I think that is Doctor Brainard. Will you 
please let me see hiri alone? " 

"Surely, dear Willie 'and she hurried out. After the 
usual routine belonging to surgical visits. Will asked: 

"Now, Doctor, when can I rejoin my company?" 

"Rejoin your company? Never, with my consent. No 
man will ever march on an artificial leg if I have any- 
thing to say about it. Yojar regiment, as a mounted 
officer, you might rejoin in, say, a month." 

"Humph! Well, Isaacs ought to get his colonelcy and 
I my full majority by that time." 

"Think so? Now Jet me tell 3'ou the latest doings of 
your precious Republican authorities at Washington." 
[The doctor was a stanch Douglas Democrat and oppo- 
nent of the Lincoln administration.] "Will you believe 
me, Captain Fargeon, when I tell you that the order has 



THE FORTUNES OF V/AR. 329 

gone forth that whenever a regiment falls below five 
hundred men no man shall be promoted to the colonelcy?" 

"What? Oh, I don't— ^^;/'/ believe it!" 

"That's the kind of a War Department you Republic- 
ans have given us!" 

"Oh, I can't believe it. The regiments that save them- 
selves get all the promotions, and those that sacrifice 
themselves go without? Oh, it can't be!" 

"I know it can't be — long, but it is now; and it will 
be until we can put somebody in power of a different 
stripe from this stock-jobbing, office-seeking, money- 
grabbing crew! Give us a good War-Democrat like Mc- 
Clellan, and such disgraceful things will be impossible 
— and the Union will be saved!"* 

When the doctor had gone, Sara returned in wild-eyed 
terror. 

"Oh, Willie — the doctor says — j^ou want to know — 
when you can — oh, I can't speak it!" and she burst into 
a storm of tears and sobs. 

"There, there, there, my poor child! Don' t, ^^« 7 sob 
so! You'll break my heart." He stroked and patted 
her little hand in a vain attempt to soothe her almost 
hysterical distess. "What is it, Sara? I won't do any- 
thing you wish me not to do." 

"Why do you want to go away? Why do you call me 
Sara? What have I done?" ■ 

"Nothing, my dear girl, except all that an angel could 
and would do for a poor old soldier, wounded and help- 
less." 

She started up and stepped back. 

"Have J done it for a poor soldier, wounded and help- 
less? Yes — but it was also for a friend — a man who pro- 
fessed to be my lover — promised to be my husband." 

♦ The law stands to this day. 



330 



THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 



She tossed her head, compressed her lips, and glared 
at him with eyes that seemed fairly to snap, in their 
shining excitement. 

He returned her look with one of admiring surprise. 
This was a new phase of her beauty and new develop- 
ment of her character. Still they waited, and still they 
looked. How v/as the scene to end? 

In laughter, of course; albeit on her part a little wild, 
and verging on hysterics at first. Then she knelt by his 
side and hid her face, saying: 

"Now you've seen me roused. Am I terrible or not?" 

"Not merely terrible — irresistible! Such a blaze of 
beauty and spirit I never dreamed of." 

"Oh, you base flatterer! You were rattled, as you call 
it, and now you are trying to disarm me! But I won't 
be cajoled. Promise me you'll never, ftever do so again." 

"Tell me just how I offende I you, so I shall know 
what not to do in the future." 

"Why, call me by formal names, and try to escape from 
me, and pretend we are never to be — married! So there 
now! I've said it!" 

"Why, my fine lady, beauty, heiress, woman whom all 
men must adore and of whom no man is worthy — who 
am I that I should presume to look at you? To hold 
you to a promise which I begged from you when you 
were poor and I was rich — a promise you never made, 
by the bye, after all!" 

"Never promised!" she cried in dismay. "An unen- 
gaged girl treating you as I have done? That may com- 
port with }'oi/r idea of lady-like propriet}^ — your experi- 
ence of well-bred young women — but it doesn't with 
mine, I can tell you!" 

"There, there, my darling; don't be roused again. Re- 
member my feeble state — I really couldn't stand another 



THE FORTUNES OF WAR. 33I 

vision of Diana offended. But think now, seriously. 
Every friend you have in the v/orld will tell you that my 
duty is to leave you free to choose; and if I do not, I'm 
a mean fellow, unworthy to be your husband." 

"As fast as friends told me so, I'd scratch them off my 
list of friends." 

"Judge Skinner will tell you so — and he is in a kind of 
way your guardian, by virtue of Uncle Colin' s having 
named him in the will." 

"Judge Skinner? You don't know the splendid, per- 
fect gentleman! He haslet me know unmistakabl}' that 
he thought my hero's love was more to me than all this 
money or a hundred times as much could be! Why, Will, 
don't you knew that his son has gone into the service?" 

"Has Dick Skinner gone?" 

"Yes, indeed! Richard, the judge's onlj' son, the pride 
of his heart, is a Union soldier. So are lots of others, 
the flower of our young men — Will De Wolf, John Kinzie, 
Lucius Larrabee, and many, many more.* I can fancy 
Judge Skinner's fine scorn on hearing mere money set off 
against — things like that?" 

After a pause, Sail}' added, as a clincher: 

"Dear Uncle Colin said in his will that it was you he 
wished to help; and he gave me the money for that pur- 
pose." 

"He placed no conditions on you — did not bind you in 
any way — and if he had, I should set you free, seeing 
how things have changed by my becoming a useless 
cripple." 

"That's what I call morbid!" 

"That's right — trample on me — call me proud, if you 



* William De Wolf, killed at Williamsburg in 1862; John H. Kinzie, killed at Fort 
St. Charles in 1863; Lucius S. Larrabee, killed at Gettysburg in 1863; Richard Skin- 
ner, killed at Petersburg in 1864. 



332 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

like; too proud to be inflicted upon a splendid woman 
who might come to just a sacrifice, devoting herself to 
a worthy man, a wreck who needed her help, as I did 
yours after Donelson, and since Shiloh." 

Sally was dreadfully hurt at this unconscious reminder 
of the dirty tent at Donelson — of something she was 
always trying to forget. No heroics now; only tears, 
tears, tears, and sobs. She would not be comforted, 
though Will was doing his best to soothe and quiet her. 

"You — only — see — my faults — and mistakes — and — fail 
ings — oh — oh — oh — I — can't — bear it!" 

"There, there, there, sweet one ! I only see my own — 
you have none! You are glorious; it is I who am noth- 
ing — nothing !" 

The storm passed and sweet sunshine followed, the 
world being lovelier in its spangling of pearly drops. 

"Now, my dear Will, don't let us talk any more about 
it. I knew you were so romantic — or rather so sordid 
and unromantic — that I was afraid of something of this 
kind, and had a dim notion that all this might be kept 
a secret until after we were — married. But you were 
always so awfully patient about iJiat that I despaired, 
and let it but. Well — never mind. If } ou want to be 
let off your promise, I'll absolve you from it. Major Far- 
geon, we meet hereafter only as friends!" [Mock-heroic] 

But they did not part "only as friends." 

All minor crises our wounded captain had safely 
passed; now was approaching a trial — perhaps the sever- 
est of all that had occurred since the knife did its sharp 
work. The Prouders and Lydia were coming home with- 
out a single additional bit of intelligence to indicate 
Mac's fate — or even to distinguish his grave among the 
un-marked thousands the confederates had made between 
our lines and Corinth. 



THE FORTUNES OF WAR, 



333 



Our army, splendid in size, equipment, and preparation, 
had advanced, with ponderous weakness, to Corinth, to 
find there only deserted breast-works, Quaker guns, beans 
burning aromatically in the ruins of confederate store- 
houses, two destro3^ed railroads, one hundred and twent}^- 
five of the enemy's sick occupying the "Tishomingo 
Hotel," and lots of darkys occupying the rest of the 
town in great comfort and hilarity. 

Let us not invidiously name the authority to which 
this example of the ^ 
"mountain in labor" | ^ I 
was chargeable. We "' ^ - " ''" 
will only say that Grant ' '^■ 
had been superseded, 
and that the whole ab- 
surd movement seemed 
to cry aloud once more, 
"An army of lions led 
by a sheep is less for- 
midable than an army 
of sheep led by a lion. " 

Day after day did 
tireless old Prouder 
search those woods. 
Besides his own search- 
ing he hired all the trustworthy help he could secure, 
ranging from three to fifteen men. He could not use 
the negroes, because they were unable to decipher the 
pencil scrawls on the few head-posts which bore them. 
The very first day he hired them he was appalled to see 
them return loaded with these rude mementoes ruthlessly 
dug from the places where survivors had piously put 
them. 

"Yes, bans — dis h'yer chunk wuz a-stickin' plum outen 




334 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

a grabe dat look fer all de worl' lak it mought 'a' be'n 
'Tenant Clenter's grabe. T' ought I'd fotch it 'long, so's 
ter jes' let ye see ef it wuz his'n er no." 

Prouder was so shocked at the unintentional sacrilege 
that he did not tell his wife and Lydia of the circum- 
stance, but paid the darkeys one more day's wages all 
round to take the sticks back to where they found them. 

"Oh, yes, baus. We done foun' 'em all, 'n' stuck 'em 
plum back in de same holes dey kim outen. T'ankee, 
baus. Hope ye'll fin' 'im. 'Fore God I do! Fin' 'is 
head anyway, wever ye fin' de rest of 'm er not." 

A pressing telegram from Governor Yates gave him all 
the help that could come from inquiries by flag of truce, 
and after all, his crowning effort was directed toward 
gaining admission to the enemy's lines for himself in 
person. This was one of the bitterest trials of his life; 
for the tears and clinging arms of his wife, whom he 
loved better than life itself, were used to prevent his 
going. [Even eloquently bitter words regarding herself 
and their children were added to her weapons of oppo- 
sition.] Nevertheless, he tried — and failed. He might 
enter the confederate lines; but not to return, whether 
with Lieutenant McClintock or without him. 

The Shiloh and Corinth camps (the unmilitary part) 
were very sorry to see Mr. Prouder depart, for an un- 
failing spring of greenbacks was then and there dried 
up. Sharp bargains he drove; but the cash was always 
ready to meet his part of each contract. One fellow, 
caught lounging about a sutler's tent when under engage- 
ment to search a certain part of the woods, felt the 
weight of the old man's hand and the hardness of his 
boot; but not without richly deserving it. 

Telegrams have told of their leaving Pittsburgh Land- 
ing, of their passing Fort Henry and other points, of 



THE FORTUNES OF WAR. 335 

their leaving Cairo. Now the carriages approach the 
parsonage, where all the family are standing on the 
porch awaiting them. Mrs. Prouder' s lovely face shines 
from the coach window — 

"The mother-hunger glittering in her eye." 
And she springs from the door almost before the wheels 
have stopped turning. 

"He is getting well!" cries Sally, running down to 
meet her. 

"He! Which? Have they been ill?" And the other 
flies past the younger woman, never stopping till she lias 
her boys in her arms. 

"I do believe she thinks more of those young cubs of 
hers than she does of Will!" says the mortified Sally to 
Lydia, as she greets her with kiss after kiss. But how 
much older you look! And how saddened — my poor 
darling! No wonder — all this suspense; but cheer up, 
dear! 'No news is good news,' you know." 

"Yes," answers Lydia, doubtfull)^, despairingly. "No 
news that we get is ever good news. " 

As she weeps in her sister's arms, she already per- 
ceives, though dimly, that regarding the missing" in 
battle, "no news" is almost synonymoup with "no hope." 



Mr. Prouder had never encouraged them to look for 
tidings that Mac was still alive. He had secretly received 
from Mark (through Doctor Strafford, to whom Mark 
had confided them), Mac's watch and the little needle- 
case recovered from the marauding corpse-robber — mute 
witnesses of almost certain martyrdom. True, the 
ghoul might have stolen them from a helpless living 
man as well as from a dead body; but the chance of 
survival, always small, had now dwindled to the merest 
speck, as all must see. 




CHAPTER XXVII. 

ADVANCE, FRIEND, AND GIVE THE COUNTERSIGN. 

AR from winning any due reward for its 
heroic sacrifices, the Sixth was by them 
debarred from even routine promotion. 
It was not now large enough to call for a 
colonel. If it could be filled up again, 
then its offices would be filled; otherwise 
not. 

"Well," cried the zealous and hopeful Mr. Penrose; 
"we must fill it up again, that's all!" And he sat down 
at once and spent a whole evening writing a glowing 
appeal, which he sent to the Fulcrum, in the columns of 
which paper he sought for it daily for weeks afterward. 
The fact is that the editor, as soon as he glanced at the 
signature, threw the paper, unread, into the waste- 
basket. "Drop Penrose," we remember. 

New regiments were forming, filling up, and departing 
constantl}^ Why not divert part of the stream — already 
nearly 100,000 men from Illinois — to fill up the glorious 
Sixth? In season and out of season Mr. Penrose de- 
picted the dreadful losses it had sustained. He had 
lists printed of the killed and wounded, and described 
their fearful wounds and their heroic deaths. He ex- 
tolled their services, and prophesied that the Sixth 
would offer still more splendid opportunities for martyr- 
dom and self-sacrifice in the future. Yet, strange to 
say, even these exhilarating and alluring pictures failed to 

336 



ADVANCE, FRIEND, AND GIVE THE COUNTERSIGN. 337 

draw in new men. The new men obstinately preferred 
to go into the new regiments, where new offices were 
to be had — regimental, company, and non-commissioned — 
even though the slaughter should never equal that in the 
older regiments. 

When Will grew so strong that inaction became intol- 
erable, he got an assignment to duty at Camp Douglas, 
high enough to use his brevet rank; thus becoming, at' 
least in name, a mounted officer, with corresponding pay 
and allowances. Sorely was he tempted to get Mark 
Looney assigned to duty with him; but — "What would 
Mac say?" So Mark rejoined the regiment at Corinth 
in time to take part in the splendid defense of that 
post when it was fruitlessly attacked by the forces of 
Price and Van Dorn. Again the gallant few were made 
fewer, and promotion more distant than ever. 

"My boys keep opening the gate," sighed Will. 

He bought a quiet steed, contented to stard like a 
wooden horse while that awkward stiff leg could be 
thrown over the saddle, and that insensate toe be made 
to find its blind way into the stirrup; but just as he 
thought all was well, he saw some boys laughing at the 
"queer leg," that stuck out so! Will couldn't blame them 
— though Sara cried when he told her of it. So when real 
comfort and convenience were to be sought for, the quiet 
horse was harnessed to a buggy, and the quiet groom 
(or sometimes quiet Sara Penrose) accompanied him on 
his errands of business and pleasure. 

"Morphy, my boy," he wrote to the lieutenant, "when 
you have a limb shot off, look out that it's an arm and 
not a leg. Nothing belittles a man, 'takes the tuck out 
of him,' and hampers every act of his life, so much as 
to be restricted in his locomotion. Pm the one winged 
goose in the flight — the one hobbled horse in the drove. 

22 



338 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

I'd rather lose one arm than two legs, Barney — I would, 
indeed." And Morphy, Irishman as he was, never saw 
the shadow of a joke in the letter. 

The place where he felt happiest, happier than any- 
where except, perhaps, at the parsonage, was in the 
hospitals. There, relieving physical pain, succoring the 
helpless, comforting the despairing, aiding the bereaved 
— there, and there alone, he forgot all his misfortunes, his 
maimed limb, his fallen friends, his halting and inglo- 
rious future — all, all fled and dissolved into nothingness 
at the sight of continually fresh batches of human suf- 
fering to be delightfully assuaged. In all this blessed 
and self-rewarding work, Sara Penrose was his faithful, 
willing helper; a burden-sharer of the right kind in the 
right place. 

Filled with contrition, Will dwelt on at the parsonage 
during his helplessness, because he had no valid reason 
for going away; no reason which he dared to acknowl- 
edge. But when his assignment to duty came, he 
promptly took up his quarters at the pos^. Not all the 
officers did so; but he said to the questioning, loving 
folks at the parsonage that he kneiv his duty, whether 
others knew theirs or not. To himself he said: 

"I know my duty to that lovely young princess — it is 
to leave her to her own devices, and try to hope that she 
can find a happier fate than marriage with a wreck of 
humanity." 

Then he would "efface" himself, and be only one of the 
many — young, old, and middle-aged— who found them- 
selves attracted to the minister's hospitable fireside, 
now more hospitable than ever since the executorship 
was yielding a handsome income outside the unlimited 
sums at command of the elder daughter. Fargeon even 
took care to bring up and present the most worthy 




339 



340 



THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 



youths, in the army and out of it, who came within his 
sphere. "Sara the fair" only looked at them smiling 
and polite, at him wistful and reproachful. 

"I think I shall never marry," she said; and her words 
were repeated to Will. With jealous pain he would say 
to himself, "There's young Fortune again — a West 
Pointer, and a brigadier-general at thirty — she ou^ht to 
fall in love with him!" Then the cold smile for the 
other, and the warm look for him, would raise him to 
the seventh heaven, and he would say, "I am doing her 

an injustice — and m.y- 
self a useless cruelty." 
For his veins were again 
filling with healthy 
blood, and his muscles, 
bodily and mentally, 
were hardening into 
vigorous manhood once 
more. 

One evening, after 
General Fortune had 
retired from the field, 
evidently disheartened, 
and Sara, as usual, had emerged suddenly from cold 
gravity into warm gayety, Will, exultant and indiscreet, 
broke forth : 

"Loveliest — dearest — best of created beings — I believe 
I'm a born fool! When shall the wedding be?" 

"J/y wedding, Major Fargeon? With General Fortune? 
Or if not, with whom?" (Bridling with a pretense of 
offended dignity). 

If she had wanted to punish him for anything she 
would have taken delight in seeing his features fall into 
lines of utter dismay and confusion and the blood ebb 




ADVANCE, FRIEND, AND GIVE THE COUNTERSIGN. 34 1 

from cheek and lip, leaving a look that reminded her of 
his most helpless time. But she did not. The dear girl 
scarcely waited a moment before, holding out both her 
hands to him, she cried: 

"There, there! Don't look so — just come and kneel at 
my feet and beg my pardon for your heartless and friv- 
olous behavior — throwing other men at my head as if you 
were a prince trying to get rid of a wearisome favorite!" 

"My heart kneels to you, sweet one; but my kneeling 
days, bodily speaking, are past — unless you'll wait while 
I unstrap my cork leg." 

"Never mind! If you can't kneel to me, I'll come 
and kneel to you. There now; I can look right into your 
eyes and ask you how you dared behave so!" 

"Well, it was audacious, I admit ; but you v/ere so un- 
utterably lovely — " 

"So unutterably lovely that you let me alone?" 

"No; asked you to marry me — to fix the wedding-day. " 

"Oh, I'm not finding fault with th-at!" 



Could anything add to their unspeakable happiness? 
Yes, greatly; but some things might occur to detract 
from it. For instance, there was an untimely ring at the 
front door. Lydia (who had discreetly retired with the 
others and left them alone), came in, to find them calmly 
seated at an unexceptionable distance apart, but at the 
same time with tell-tale faces. 

"I thought I'd come to see if you heard the bell. But 
I suppose it can't be a caller at this hour." 

"A man to see Captain Fargeon," announced the 
"second-girl." 

"Is he an orderly?" 

"No, sir; he looks more like a tramp. He just rang 
the bell and then went back to the gate." 



342 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

"Oh, Will — send out to find out what he wants! Per- 
haps he's — a copperhead — an assassin." 

"Ha-ha, my love! Your father's own daughter;" and 
he disappeared. Step — clump, step — clump, step — 
clump, they heard the well-known and well-beloved halt- 
ing tread through the hall, over the porch, down the 
door-step. Then they heard no more. 

"Well, comrade, what can I do for 3^ou? Do I know 
you? Glad to see you, whoever you are." 

"Captain Fargeon— '" 

Will's cry burst upon the still air: 

"Oho-ho-ho-ho, my dear boy, my dear Mac, my dearest 
friend come back to me from the grave! Mac! — Mac!" 

He began with a wild laugh and ended with a wilder 
sob as tears choked his speech, and he could only hob- 
ble forward, stretch out his arms and babble meaningless 
S5dlables, while the other retreated until he had closed 
the front gate between them. 

"Hold on. Captain — hold on till I tell you — " 

"Oh, Mac, Mac! what do you mean? You are Mac, 
aren't you? Not Mac's ghost?" 

"Yes, I'm Mac, what there is left of me; but you 
can't come near me till I've had a chance to care for 
myself — had a bath and — so forth." 

"Bath be hanged! You're coming right in, or I'll 
know the reason v/hy! I'll get 5^ou your bath and your 
clean clothes — give you every clo' I've got in the world 
down to what I have on my back! Let me open this gate, 
I tell you!" And he tried to loosen the other's hold on 
the top bar. 

"If you do I'll run down the street!" 

"Why, Mac, what do you mean? If it were anybody 
else in the world I'd get angry." 

"I'm just out of a rebel prison — and clear of a steamer- 










343 



344 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

load and a train-load of fellow-prisoners — and I haven't 
had a single cent in my hand since I saw you last — and 
I'm dirty, and starved, and I want you to lend me ten 
dollars." 

"I've a great mind to say no, because you won't come 
in and take everything I've got in the world instead of 
your beggarly ten dollars!" 

"Oh, I guess you won't refuse me." 

"No; but why won't you come in, clean or dirty, you 
blessed old prodigal son you! I tell you there are some 
arms inside you'd find harder to fight shy of than mine!" 

"Oh, yes — that's all very fine — but here, let me whis- 
per to you." 

He whispered. 

"Oh, ho, ho! I see! No, you can't come in. I won't 
allow it; if you'd said only five hundred I might — but 
a thousand! Well, I must go inside for the money. 
Wait a minute till I get my eyes wiped dry and my face 
straightened out. If they find out you're here they'll 
all be out here in a jiffy." 

"Then I should have to run away." 

"Yes — you tearing down Wabash avenue with the Pen- 
rose family after you, would be an edifying spectacle — 
and I bringing up the rear on my one leg. 

"Left one at Shiloh? Good God!" 

"Yes, but this minute I don't care for it — not a hooter!" 

He entered the room where the sisters were anxiously 
waiting. 

"Another of them I suppose. Will?" 

"Yes, my dear banker, another of them. How much 
money have you?" 

"Oh" (pulling out her purse), "there; you'll find sev- 
eral dollars in it." 

"Any more upstairs?" 



ADVANCE, FRIEND, AND GIVE THE COUNTERSIGN. 345 

"Yes. How much do you want to give him?" 

"How much have you, you blessed gold-mine?" 

"Oh, I have fifty dollars, all but that in the purse, 
which I took out of the fifty." 

"Well, bring that, please. And do you suppose your 
father has any?" 

"I'll ask him if you wish." 

"Have you any, Lydia?" 

"Why, yes, a few dollars." 

"Well, I have a few myself. Bring it all, please, and 
I'll tell you why, in less than five minutes." 

The entire contribution-box made a bulky roll, which 
Will squeezed into Mac's hand and bade him good- 
night, and told him to come back at noon next day, 
"clothed and in his right mind. " Then he went back to the 
sitting-room and lay flat down on the rug, that he might 
laugh and cover his face and roll about at his ease. 

The sisters looked at him and at each other. 

"Lydia!" 
"Sara! " 

"There's only one thing that could make him act so!" 

"Is it true, Will?" 

"YES! THAT WAS MAC!" 

Lydia ran out of the room, and they heard the gate 
bang shut behind her flying footsteps. Presently she 
returned, almost crying. 

"Why did you let him go?" she asked in hot, hurt 
tones. 

"I just had to! He was neither to 'hand nor to bind,' 
as dear old Colin used to say. As soon as he heard you 
were here he fled wildly into the night — and it may be 
that he has sought relief in suicide. If not, you'll see 
him here at high noon to-morrow." 

When Lydia had left them again alone, the lovers had 



34^ THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

their longest, sweetest talk all about themselves and "the 

others." 

"They'll be the very church-mice of poverty, Sally." 
"Oh — I guess dear Uncle Colin' s pot will always yield 

enough broth for us all." 



The war is long past and gone — dead and buried and 
forgotten except for political purposes. We are now de- 
voted to business, and every thing is on a business basis. 
Greenbacks, worth forty per cent, before we won the 
fight, are now worth par, so that account is squared 
off. Eighty per cent, of the war debt is pairl. Twenty 
per cent, of the war taxes are abolished; and if more are 
not done away with it is not because the United States 
Treasury needs the money, but because some favored 
citizens are not yet as rich as the United States Treas- 
ury, though they wish to become so. The nation is forty 
per cent, bigger than when the war closed, and a million 
per cent, more booming than any other nation ever was, 
ever dared to be, or ever will be. Fifty per cent, of the 
taxes collected are yearly paid out in pensions. Fifty 
per cent, of the dead are forgotten, and the other fifty per 
cent, are half forgotten; so that to the rest of the world 
(and to them) it is all the same, within twenty five per cent. 
as if nobody had been killed at all. As to the wounded, 
each of those who still survive has come within from 
forty to sixty per cent, of becoming accustomed and rec- 
onciled to his disability; and this last-named percentage 
is further mitigated by the pensions paid — including one to 
Private Dugong, who is supposed to have strained his 
back carrying a wounded officer off the field at Shiloh; 
whereby he feels forced to walk quite bent over on four 
several days in the year — those on wnich he goes to draw 
his pension. He lately got an increase (including large 



ADVANCE, FRIEND, AND GIVE THE COUNTERSIGN. 347 

arrears), on its being shown that he was once a corporal, 
though not so at the time he incurred his injury. 

On the whole, the fighters, dead and alive, ought to 
be very thankful that things have turned out so well; 
and to feel entirely satisfied with the general result. 

Mentioning the wounded brings us naturally to Captain 
and Brevet-Major William Fargeon. He is one who 
comes within sixty per cent, of being reconciled to 
his wound; and he does not enjoy the pension mitigation 
because he foolishly but persistently declines to apply 
for a pension. He irrationally says that for support he 
does not need the pension (though he does need the other 
leg), and as to taking the country's money as pay for his 
services — money cannot pay for such things; they bear 
no more relation to money than the Aurora Borealis does 
to a pig's e3^ebrow. 

His wife and daughters do not agree with him in this 
view. They think that since papa's profession (surgery, 
which he studied during the war and has practiced 
since) seems to yield him so very little, there is no 
reason why he should not do as other men do, and make 
the country pay at least a small part of the debt it owes 
him. "But, then, poor dear papa is so peculiar." 

Yes, alas! he is "peculiar." He will not apply for 
a pension, although so many are getting it who are really 
not as deserving of it as he is. He rarely talks of war, 
except with old soldiers. He cares nothing for politics, 
and never even tries to get into office. There are some 
tunes he cannot listen to, in general company. He eats 
what is put on his plate, no more and no less, and calls 
it a "ration." He loves his pipe more than he does — 
most other things; and then his funny regard for a sim- 
ple match! ("Marcloonies" as he calls them, or, for 
short "marcs.") 



348 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

Mark, by the way, is orderly sergeant in Mac's com- 
pany of the — th infantry, U. S. A. This is the height 
of Mark's ambition; and he, with his arm nearly covered 
with "Service stripes," and his purse overflowing with 
"fogy rations" (greatly to the delectation of the young 
McClintocks) is probably the most serenely contented of 
our three volunteers. 

Will is sorry his profession yields so little — sorry and 
at first surprised. He studied thoroughly and has prac- 
ticed successfully (from a professional point of view), 
both in military hospitals and outside. His rich old 
friends are most cordial, and often say to him: 

"You know. Major, that we who did not go out — I could 
not, the way my business was situated — feel that we owe 
you fellows who did go a debt of gratitude that can never 
be repaid. " 

And so, naturally, they don't try to repay it; but they 
do recognize his position as an ex-soldier, a man, and a 
surgeon, for they throw into his hands a great deal of busi- 
ness of the charitable, non-paying kind. He is always 
fully supplied with it; in fact, could have more of it to 
do if he could possibly attend to it. When there is any- 
thing "with money in it" to be done, of course it goes 
elsewhere, but when a soldier's widow and orphans want 
anything Will is always appealed to, and never in vain. 

Similar laws seem to govern his other experiences. 
His voluntary contributions to current publications are 
often accepted (unless there is about these a suspicion 
of "free advertising" of some object or other); but when 
he tried a magazine article — which his wife and daugh- 
ters thought really quite good — it was returned to him 
with a printed blank assuring him that the editors did 
not presume to judge of the merit of his work; simply 
they did not find it adapted to their present purposes. 



ADVANCE, FRIEND, AND GIVE THE COUNTERSIGN. 



349 






And, what was still more consoling, was an autograph 
note (unsigned) saying that the public was "tired of the 
war." So of course it v/as not its own quality which con- 
demned his article, but an outside circumstance. 

"Curious, too, to think how tired / was of it once 
when //ley were not; and now they are tired of it when I 
am not. Well, I'll go on tending gate." 

Captain and Mrs. McClintock and their numerous 
fiock are always at some out-of-the-way post on the 
frontier. Their Aunt Sara is sorry she cannot entertain 
them more — but dear 
■Bunny has such a per- 
fect raft of children, 
you know; and then, 
of course, dear brother 
Mac has only his pay 
and cannot spare much 
for traveling expenses. 
But, then, there are 
only thirty-nine 'rank- 
ing captains between 
him and his majority; 
and that will help ma- 
terially if his life is 
spared. We don't know why he never seems to get any of 
those pleasant eastern berths. Probably he is too valuable 
an officer to be brought away from the frontier. Every 
year a box of our dear girls' things, only a very little worn, 
goes to them, costing them nothing but the expressage. 




In Washington a very Great Man taps a bell which 
calls his secretary into his office. 

"Now, about those damned assignments. How far had 
we got?" 



350 THE CAPTAIN OF COMPANY K. 

"To Captain McClintock. " 

"What about him?" 

"First-rate officer; wounded in the war; fine, large 
young family; been out eleven years steady." 

"Is he — ?" [A nod of the head toward the Hudson 
River fills out the sentence.] 

"No! Ranks." 

"Any letters from anybody regarding him on file?" 

"No. No letters nor personal calls." 

"Well; pass him for the present. Who's next?" 

Each gives a little sigh and forgets all about poor Mac. 



Blessed old Parson Penrose, saint on earth, goes about 
serving God and doing good, under certain discourage- 
ments. When (not long since) he jocularly suggested 
to his congregation that he was getting too old to keep 
his pulpit, they surprised him by taking him seriously, 
and retiring him on a pension. All this he could forgive 
— has long since forgiven — but alas! the "indifferentism" 
that is undermining everything! 

"To my arguments they make, and can make, no reply 
whatever, yet these same arguments are like cannon-balls 
fired into Lake Michigan!" [The dominie is fond of 
military similes.] 

This coldness, this apathy, is the only thing he could 
ever complain of in his daughter's household. He strug- 
gled with it at first, blaming himself, of course, and ask- 
ing wherein he had failed of doing his full duty toward 
them. Time softened this regret, but later, when they 
took the occasion of his being retired from his old pastorate 
to desert the faith of their parents and take one of the 
best pews in St. James', then the iron entered his soul. 

Nevertheless, he always shares their birthday dinners, 



ADVANCE, FRIEND, AND GIVE THE COUNTERSIGN. 35 1 

and dear mamma is careful (out of respect to his feel- 
ings) not to forget to ask him to say grace. 

The Fulcrum and the Rostrum are both gathered to 
their fathers, and the place that knew them shall know 
them no more forever. 

Fargeon is sorry he has no son. In the first place,' 
there is in his heart an unsatisfied longing to send down 
to posterity the name of old Colin Thorburn, the source 
of all this prosperity and luxury. [A deep sigh.] In 
the second place, it would be pleasant to think that the 
uncommon name cf Fargeon was not to die out, in his 
branch, with him. Half a dozen stalwart boys would 
keep alive for a few years the knowledge that their 
ancestor fought among the rest at Donelson and Shiloh. 
But as it is — [another sigh]. 

An old ragged shirt sleeve, once white and red, now 
yellow and black, is tucked away somewhere — unless it 
has been destroyed with other rubbish. 

Well, after all is said and done, the major has more 
to be glad of than to be sorry for. When, every year 
or tv/o, he says the question has again arisen whether he 
shall get a new leg fitted, or keep the old leg and get a 
new man fitted to it, he doesn't really mean it. "It is 
only one of Papa's jokes, you know." So he treads 

through the world the even tenor of his way; step 

clump; step clump; step clump; step 

FINIS. 



Other Works by the same Author: 



Zury, the Meanest Man in Spring 
County. 

The McVeys; an Episode. 



Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. 



252 



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